National Insurance rise for social care not the right way to go, Starmer tells PM

Elliot Chappell
© UK Parliament/Jessica Taylor
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Boris Johnson will today unveil his social care plan, or at least the plan to fund the plan. It comes 776 days after he stood on the steps of Downing Street, having just become Prime Minister, and told the public he already had a “clear plan” prepared to fix the broken care system. A package of funding was agreed last night. The NHS will get an additional £1bn, on top of a £5bn announced increase, to deal with the backlog caused by Covid. The cash will be focused on the health service for the first three years, before going to pay for social care reform.

Controversial is the manifesto-breaking plan to raise National Insurance (NI) by 1.25% to fund social care changes. The Conservatives promised not to raise NI, income tax or VAT at the last election. Johnson is facing opposition from both his backbenchers and ministers, as well as the opposition. Keir Starmer wrote to Johnson last night, warning him that raising NI will “hit working people hard, including low earners and young people” – and businesses hit hard by the pandemic. “The taxes that pay for social care should be fair across the generations and all forms of income. Those with the broadest shoulders should pay more – not the working families now set for an unfair tax rise,” the Labour leader wrote.

Elsewhere in Westminster today, the elections bill will have its second reading. The proposed legislation would require people to show photo ID in all elections in England and for police and crime commissioner elections in Wales and Scotland. Government figures suggest that the move could disenfranchise more than two million people, and a Cabinet Office impact assessment reported that the policy could cost up to £180m over the next ten years. Ministers are advocating the measure as necessary to keep our elections “free and fair”. It is worth noting, however, that there have only been three convictions for voter impersonation in the last seven years.

Provisions in the bill would also put further restrictions on campaigning by trade unions, according to Trade Union and Labour Party Liaison Organisation (TULO) analysis, which will disproportionally impact the Labour Party. The legislation stipulates that where a party is campaigning jointly with a union any expenditure would have to be declared by all groups involved. TULO has said this will reduce the total amount available and increase red tape. “This is a deliberate attempt to silence the trade unions that have a historic relationship with Labour. It’s all about the Conservatives rigging democracy in their favour,” shadow minister Cat Smith said.

Also to watch out for today, Sienna will be joined by Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar, Mick Antoniw MS, West Yorkshire mayor Tracy Brabin and professor Nicola McEwen to discuss radical federalism in our event with UK in a Changing Europe. Sign up here and tune in at 6pm.

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