Can we save the NHS through our National Insurance contributions?

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Monday 06 February 2017 18:04 GMT
Jeremy Hunt has come under fire for his handling of the NHS crisis
Jeremy Hunt has come under fire for his handling of the NHS crisis (Getty)

John Rentoul addresses the problem of funding the NHS by suggesting a form of “social insurance” as exists elsewhere in Europe but admits that such a proposal would be privatisation and therefore runs against the national religion.

Does a simpler alternative not already exist: national insurance? The total raised from NI is not far off the current bill for the NHS (NI receipts £113bn, NHS confederation budget £120bn). Restore the link between NI and the NHS (the Treasury will hate such a hypothecated tax, of course) and we are nearly there.

Eliminate the collar on NI rates over £827 per week (£3583 a month), which are set at 2 per cent so that everyone would pay 12 per cent throughout the earning range, and there clearly will be a surplus – enough to raise the top rate income tax threshold so that people on middle incomes pay the same as now.

There is the added benefit that there are few tax allowances with national insurance, unlike income tax.

When national insurance was the way that the health service (together with the state pension) was funded, it was common to hear people say that NI was the only deduction from their wages that they didn't mind paying.

David Humphrey
London, W5

We live in a post truth world

With the creative use of language these days whether it be the use of “alternative facts” or “post-truth politics” I have decided that at the age of 76 I am no longer old. I am “post-middle aged”.

David Neale

If graduates were more likely to vote to Remain, maybe it's time to assess the education system

The BBC today announced that graduates were more likely to have voted to remain in the referendum and less educated people more likely to have voted to leave. Would these educated people please tell me what they like about the EU?

Is it the lack of democratic accountability, for example – the fact that not only do we have no say at all in who is chosen to propose legislation, but even the people appointed on our behalf to represent us by the political parties (our MEPs) have no say in initiating or amending legislation?

Could it be the lack of economic flexibility in the growth and stability pact that prevents nations from responding effectively to economic shocks and so gives rise to crippling levels of unemployment in so many EU countries?

Could it be the in-built advantage that it gives to Germany, resulting in a continuous transfer of wealth from the poorer member countries?

Could it be the weak economic performance of the EU that is causing Europe to lag further and further behind the rest of the developed world?

Maybe it is the protectionism of the union that prevents poorer non-EU countries from being able to compete and which causes EU citizens to pay more for their food and staples than they should?

Is it the hollowing out of former communist countries as their brightest and best head for richer climes?

Could it be the fact that no credible economist can see how the Euro can possibly do anything other than fail in the next few years?

Is it the devastating effect that unrestricted movement of people has on unskilled workers?

Or is it, as I fear, that our education system simply does not develop critical faculties and simply encourages people to think the same as their peers?

Hugh Murray

There was a golden age of British rail

I have to strongly disagree with your assertion that “there never was a golden age of British rail” (Leader, yesterday). True in the 1950s and 1960s it was pretty dreadful: poor punctuality, dirty and late. But after the sectorisation in the 1980s and creation of separate business units, e.g. InterCity, it became the most efficient rail service in Europe, if not in the world.

For some reason people always overlook this period and can only call to mind its dreadful time. The Independent doesn’t need alternative facts.

Ian K Watson

How can we explain Brexit to our children?

Just what will our children say in years to come, when they find out that we left the biggest and nearest trading block in the hope of deals with continents on the other side of the world? That we did so because of a small majority in an advisory referendum? That all the voters were either ignorant about what was involved, or wrongly-advised about the benefits, or were using their vote to “get one back” on the government? That the outcome was a lower standard of living for poorer people, but predictably similar levels of immigration?

That our new trading partners required co-operation from us that gave us no more control of our own country? And finally that our MPs voted knowingly contrary to the interests of the country, because they lacked the courage to do otherwise or they put their own career before the nation's interests?

Tom Canham

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