In face of long-term funding and other issues in Health & Social Care Bungling Boris has managed to try and get the money from the wrong place for the wrong reasons. He appears to be making no intelligent attempt to reform the system but seems content to apply an ever bigger sticking plaster.
When in 2019 Johnson told the Country that he had reforms ready to hand to deal with the growing problems of social care no one really believed him. For 6 years the Tories have promised a Green or White Paper which would address the issues. 10 different dates have been given for the launch of this publication. None appeared.
Now, with the NHS crisis as well, solutions have been plucked from the air based more on ideology than reason. Yes, the NHS has real problems caused by Covid. No, we can’t bring back the money splurged on ineffective track and trace and apps that were of limited value. Yes, the NHS can only work if we give it more money in the short-term. The key question is, “where should that money come from”.
My answer is a taxation and not an NI increase but I don’t believe that any ordinary individuals should need to pay more tax. The fact is that there are too many loopholes which allow people to get away with paying lower tax than most of us would think is fair. Huge corporations siphon off money to tax havens by the judicious use of lax capital allowances regulations. They then pay ‘service charges’ to parts of their company based in tax havens.
The same applies to wealthy individuals. There is a massive industry in this Country dedicated to helping rich people find tax loopholes, Regrettably, because of the huge number of regulations, this can be done too readily and HMRC is always playing catch up.
But if we ignore those obvious things to do that no Tory will touch, and assume that you and I must pay more then the only fair way to do this is to use income tax and not national insurance as the route.
National insurance really is an unfair ‘tax’. It starts to be collected at a lower level than income tax and stops at about £65k. It is not collected on other income such as that from investments of which a huge percentage is ‘earned’ by a small number of people. Some people, like me, don’t pay NI at all. I still work but as I’m over 65 (only just!) pay no NI so I keep a higher proportion of my income.
On top of that I am fortunate enough to be a home owner. The value of our home has increased by 500% since we bought it back in 1994. We’ve done some improvements to it but basically our biggest capital growth has not been one we ‘earned’ but which happened through outside circumstances.
I have no problem with the idea that our assets should be used, if necessary, to pay for care for Erica and I if we become old and infirm. We’ve given our kids a good start in life. We’ve even put something aside for our grandchildren. Why, if we cannot live in our home anyway, should it not be used to pay for our costs in another home? If we do get a lifetime cap for our social care, as proposed by Andrew Dilnot 10 years ago, Erica and I could begin to plan our own resources better and give a little more to our children and grandchildren now instead of keeping reserves, “in case”.
All this talk of money ignores the fact that under Johnson’s plans we will spend the money on the wrong things. In my 6 years as Lib Dem spokes on Health & Care at the LGA, which came to an end in August, I continually argued for increased spending on public health and health prevention. When 30%+ of our hospital beds are occupied by people with drugs, obesity or alcohol induced illnesses we should know the way forward.
Keeping people healthy by helping them with a variety of problems early in their lives gives them a much better life and could save the NHS a fortune. Not preventing preventable ill health means that our NHS is keeping open hospital beds that could actually be withdrawn. Instead we have seen year on year real term cuts to our public health budgets.
Budgets which would address problems such as poor housing and poor air quality have also been slashed. The ultimate price of not spending a small amount now is wasted lives and spending loads more money later.
Finally, how could I as a Remainer not point that according to Johnson this money is totally unnecessary. The amount being put into health and social care this week is dwarfed by the £350 million a week that we have saved by coming out of the EU!! Hang on, let me think about that assertion!
Instead of a reasoned argument which had been tested by public discussion and into which all Parties could provide support we are getting a dogmatic approach designed to appease the right-wing thugs in his own Parliamentary Party and a core base which argues for selfishness and greed.
Over the past 5 days I have about 50 people come to my door to leave donations of goods, cash and new bought products to help Afghan refugees. Johnsons’ appeal does not seem fair to them or me. The true British spirit is one that lends a hand to those in need and believes in fairness and sharing. I actually think that this is a majority of the British people. Perhaps, at the next election we can find a way of working together to defeat the selfish, nasty people who make short-term decisions in favour of the wealthy minority.