On 7th September 2021, the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, announced new plans to reform health and social care funding which will include raising National Insurance (NI) via a levy.
Many argue that increasing the tax will punish the young and worse off. Johnson’s new plan will lead to a NI increase of around 1.25 per cent, thus raising £10bn a year, but this will also lead to limiting a rise in the state pension.
Act 4 Inclusion believes, like many other bodies, the last decade has seen the crisis within the system known as Social Care deepen however the solutions put forward have nearly all remained both inadequate and absent of the voices of those directly involved – the service users and workforce. It is right to argue for a national debate on the way forward and how to pay for it. However, it is essential that, before we talk about finances, we need to agree what we want to pay for – what kind of system and services do we want to replace the current broken and discriminatory system? What is being delivered and to whom is never discussed because the mass media perpetuate the myth that Social Care is all about ‘looking after the elderly’ (sic) – but that is untrue. Neither is the crisis all about the money either.
Act 4 Inclusion fears the crucial issues will be side-lined by the arguments around the inequalities of the British tax system. It is important to understand that the government is extremely skilled at employing divide and rule tactics; it is a common ploy to play on prejudices and fears. We should note the fact that the government often float ideas knowing they will elicit a negative reaction as this will soften the ground in preparation for the real agenda. Already the idea of a hike in National Insurance has provided a platform for ageist and disablist bile.
Leaving aside the debate about the true nature of the crisis and the need to replace a system not fit for purpose; we need to question the real agenda behind Johnson’s announcement. Is it a financial quick fit for resource bare services or is it a Trojan Horse? The government, we know, want to create new markets and sell services off to American interests. It is a safe bet companies such as Unum Insurance would jump at the opportunity to assist setting up and running a national health insurance scheme. Opposing the government’s discriminatory plans has to be part of a bigger campaign to promote a new transformative system and services defined and designed by those who use it, publicly funded through equitable taxation, free at the point of use, and not for private profit.
Bob Williams-Findlay MA
Act 4 Inclusion Engagement Officer
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