Despite the pledge made upon his promotion to Prime Minister in July 2019, to fix the funding crisis currently affecting health and social care, Boris Johnson is yet to establish a clear means of how he will do this.
The Coronavirus pandemic has played a significant role in exacerbating the problems currently facing the social care industry. The NHS is suffering with a backlog of cases; the lack of personal protective equipment (PPE) increased pressure on care homes; and, despite increasing demand for its use, spending on social care is 3% lower than a decade ago.
The current, favoured proposal to combat these problems is an increase in National Insurance tax, described as a “social care and health levy.” However, plans to increase taxes would conflict with the Prime Minister’s promise in the Conservative manifesto that taxes would not be raised to pay for public spending.
Nevertheless, this proposed increase in tax has received support from former Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt. He stated that increasing the National Insurance tax by 1% has the potential to generate £6 billion. This significant sum has the capability of rectifying substantial backlogs, as well as combating the other pressing needs within the industry.
Provided the tax rise is approved, it is hoped the funds generated will go towards improving the health and social care industry, and contribute towards the quality and availability of social care for all persons. Further to this, it is argued the tax rise would also provide positive, short to medium-term results for health and social care. Costs incurred due to the pandemic will be covered, backlogs will diminish, and there are promises of “new deals” to be made for employees in the sector.
Resigning now for Parliament’s summer recess, it is hoped clear, non-performative plans on government spending, especially in regards to health and social care, will materialise in September when Parliament reconvenes.