Lib Dems pledge to invest extra £6 billion in NHS and social care

Party would raise income tax by 1 per cent to boost health spending

Benjamin Kentish
Saturday 06 May 2017 00:41 BST
Tim Farron accused Theresa May of not caring about the NHS
Tim Farron accused Theresa May of not caring about the NHS (Getty Images)

The Liberal Democrats will invest an extra £6 billion per year in the NHS and social care, the party has announced.

The increased funding would be paid for by raising 1p on all rates of income tax, with the revenue ring-fenced to be spent only on health and social care.

At least £2 billion would be earmarked for social care while the rest would go to health services.

Announcing the policy, their first election manifesto pledge of the 2017 campaign, the Lib Dems also set out a “five-point recovery plan” for the NHS.

In addition to increased funding, the party said investment would be focused on areas of healthcare where the need is greatest, including social care, primary care, mental health and public health.

This would be followed by a “Health and Care Tax”, which would see the budgets for health and social care merged and people informed, via their payslips, of how much of their tax was being spent on the services.

The Lib Dems would also establish a cross-party “health and care convention” to review the long-term funding of the NHS and work towards achieving greater co-operation between services.

The party said they would establish a new organisation, called the Office of Health and Care Funding, to monitor how much money the NHS needs to meet its targets.

The new body would operate in a similar way to the Office for Budget Responsibility established by George Osborne after the 2010 election to monitor national finances.

The proposed 1 per cent tax rise would see the tax bill of someone earning £20,000 a year increase by £83 per year, while an income of £30,000 would mean an extra £183 in tax. A high earner paid £100,000 a year would see their tax bill rise by £2,500.

Announcing the policy, Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron said: "Theresa May doesn't care about the NHS or social care. People are lying on trolleys in hospital corridors and she has done nothing. The truth is you can't have a strong NHS with a Hard Brexit.

"The Liberal Democrats will rescue the NHS and social care. We are prepared to be honest with people and say that we will all need to chip in a little more.

"It is not too late to change Britain's future. The Conservatives want absolute power, Labour are too weak to stand up to them, so we will. The Liberal Democrats will be the strong opposition Britain needs."

The policy is likely to be welcomed by the public. An ITV poll last year found 70 per cent of Britons would be happy to pay an extra 1 per cent in tax if the money went to the NHS.

It mimics a similar policy introduced by New Labour in 2002, when a 1p rise in National Insurance was used to support a £40 billion increase in NHS spending.

Labour has also attempted to make the NHS and social care a core plank of its election campaign in recent weeks.

The party has said it would end the 1 per cent pay freeze on NHS staff and fund this by reversing the Conservatives’ cuts to corporation tax.

Commenting on the Lib Dem plans Lucy Powell, Labour Party candidate for Manchester Central, said: "You can’t trust the Liberal Democrats. They broke their promises and would do it again.

“Their promises are undermined by their record. In government they helped the Tories take our NHS backwards by making it harder to see your GP, putting hospitals into financial crisis and wasting £3 billion on a top-down reorganisation of the NHS. And on tax, they promised fair taxes and no VAT increase only to give millionaires tax breaks while working families were hit by a VAT rise."

Meanwhile, the Conservative Financial Secretary to the Treasury Jane Ellison said: “Now we know - a vote for anyone other than Theresa May means you will pay more tax. Jeremy Corbyn, the Lib Dems and SNP will hit 30 million people in the pocket with higher income taxes."

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in