I welcome the announcement by the Prime Minister that NHS and social care will now receive a massive increase in funding to deal with the backlog caused by the pandemic and to increase capacity. This will be paid for through a 1.25% increase in National Insurance, known as the Health and Social Care levy.
From my discussions with residents most people support a rise in tax to address the backlog in the NHS and to increase capacity of the health service. Health and social care is the number one issue in Telford.
It has been clear for many years that the UK needs a long-term solution to social care problems and the Prime Minister has made a bold, much needed move to address this. It is crucial that we do not get into a cycle of tweaking obscure taxes that most people do not pay. The Government will opt for a rise across a broad tax base to the raise the significant amount of money needed. Only an ambitious plan like this will futureproof the health and care system.
That said, if my constituents are to see a tax increase they must see normal services resume, they must be able to access GP services, they must have access to accident and emergency care and they must see waiting lists and waiting times fall.
In Telford this is particularly pertinent as we see our local health board looking for even more cash for their grand transformational plan moving services to Shrewsbury. We also the have the issue with Teldoc services where phone access is often not possible - never mind a GP appointment by phone or otherwise.
A low tax economy incentivises work, but I also believe in fiscal responsibility. We must ensure that tax is fair and spent on the issues that matter most to people– such as the NHS and social care. Crucially, under these new plans, the more people earn the more they will pay.
It is worth noting that the Labour Party, which has spent the last decade arguing for massive increases in funding for the health service, have now decided to oppose increasing tax to pay for our health and social care needs, without offering any alternative funding plan.