PM admits controversial social care tax hike 'breaks manifesto commitment'

7 September 2021, 13:12 | Updated: 7 September 2021, 13:51

EJ Ward

By EJ Ward

Boris Johnson accepted his plans broke his 2019 election manifesto pledges but he blamed the Covid-19 pandemic for the change of approach.

Boris Johnson admitted plans to raise national insurance by 1.25 per cent from next April, to help fund the health and social care system in England, did break a Tory manifesto pledge.

The Prime Minister told the House of Commons that those above pension age and still working will also pay.

Read more: National Insurance to rise by 1.25% to cover cost of social care reform

It's expected to raise around £12bn- some of which will go towards a catch up programme for the NHS as it deals with a backlog of patients.

The PM told MPs the Covid backlogs would not be fixed "without giving the NHS the money it needs," nor could you "fix the NHS without fixing social care."

In an emotive speech before the House Mr Johnson said health and social care could not be fixed "without long term reform."

"No Conservative government ever wants to raise taxes, and I'll be honest with the house. I accept this breaks a manifesto commitment."

The PM said this was not something he did lightly, but that nobody could have imagined a global pandemic.

"I think the people of this country understand that in their bones and they can see the enormous steps that this Government and the Treasury have taken."

He went on: "This is the right, the reasonable and the fair approach - enabling our amazing NHS to come back strongly from the crisis, tackling the Covid backlogs, funding our nurses, making sure people get the care and treatment they need in the right place at the right time, and ending a chronic and unfair anxiety for millions of people and their families up and down this country."

Mr Johnson is likely to face backlash from his own benches for breaking the 2019 manifesto pledge not to raise taxes.

Jake Berry, leader of the Northern Research Group of Conservative MPs, said he did not think it was reasonable for people in his constituency – more likely to be on lower wages than those in affluent southern England seats – to have to pay more tax to support those who simply want to “keep hold of their houses in other parts of the country where house prices may be much higher”.

Dehenna Davison, the MP for Bishop Auckland, said the Tories “absolutely cannot go against this manifesto”.

Yesterday, a government minister acknowledged there were no easy solutions but insisted that they had to take advantage of the opportunity offered by Mr Johnson's 2019 general election win.

Armed Forces minister James Heappey told LBC: "This is going to be hard, there will be no consensus, but we have to try, because if you can't do it with a majority of 80, when can you?"

But the PM also faced criticism form the Opposition benches with Labour deputy leader Angela Rayner tweeting: "This is not a plan to fix social care.

"Describing it as such is an insult to everyone who works in social care and everyone who relies on social care."