Inside the explosive Tory row over Boris Johnson's plan to fund social care with tax hikes

The Prime Minister is poised to increase National Insurance to pay for social care, in a breach of his 2019 manifesto

Boris Johnson has a battle on his hands over plans to hike national insurance to fund social care
Boris Johnson has a battle on his hands over plans to hike national insurance to fund social care

Boris Johnson is facing an explosive Tory row over plans for a manifesto-busting hike to National Insurance to fund social care.

The Prime Minister is expected to set out plans to increase National Insurance by 1.25% to raise £10bn a year, with an £80,000 cap on lifetime contributions.

Mr Johnson has been locked in talks with Chancellor Rishi Sunak and Health Secretary Sajid Javid in recent days over how to fund social care after promising he had a plan to fix the struggling sector more than two years ago.

The final details are still being hammered out but the PM is expected to discuss his plan at a Cabinet meeting on Tuesday.

The move, which would see Mr Johnson rip up a 2019 manifesto pledge, has triggered a ferocious Tory backlash.

The PM is facing fierce criticism from his party over the plans


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Commons leader Jacob Rees-Mogg used a newspaper column to highlight the fate of former US President George Bush Sr after he broke his promise to raise taxes.

He said: “‘Read my lips: no new taxes’, George Bush Sr’s promise in 1988 during his successful bid to be President which he later broke before losing to Bill Clinton in 1992.”

He added: “Voters remembered these words after President Bush had forgotten them.”

No other Cabinet Ministers have openly criticised the plan but top Tories such as International Trade Secretary Liz Truss and Home Secretary Priti Patel are reportedly opposed to it.

Speculation has been rife in Westminster of a Cabinet reshuffle at the end of the week – which could be a threat issued to keep ministers in line.

Tory grandees have spoken out against the plan, including former Conservative chancellors Philip Hammond, Norman Lamont and Ken Clarke.

Former prime minister Sir John Major warned it was “regressive as it would target workers and employers.

Influential backbencher Jake Berry, who leads the Northern Research Group of Tory MPs, warned that the policy could hit people on lower wages in northern seats the party is desperate to keep hold of.

Rossendale and Darwen MP Mr Berry said: “It doesn’t really seem to me reasonable that people who are going to work in my own constituency in east Lancashire, probably on lower wages than many other areas of the country, will pay tax to support people to keep hold of their houses in other parts of the country where house prices may be much higher.”

He told the Today programme that it raised issues around intergenerational fairness as National Insurance was not paid by people who are retired.

“It doesn’t seem fair to me – particularly following this pandemic where so many people have taken great sacrifices to keep people safe, it’s particularly hit the youngest, particularly hit those in work – that we then ask those in work to pay for people to have protection in care,” he said.

Alex Stafford, Conservative MP for Rother Valley, said his party should not be raising taxes “without a plan” to reform social care.

“I’m a Conservative and therefore Conservatives shouldn’t be raising taxes willy-nilly,” he told Times Radio.

“We can’t just raise tax without a plan to actually make fundamental changes and make things better.”

Tory MP Robert Halfon, who chairs the Education Committee, said he could not support the move unless it only kicked in for those earning over £40,000.

Keir Starmer told the Mirror Labour would also oppose an increase in National Insurance contributions.

“We do need more investment in the NHS and social care but National Insurance, this way of doing it, simply hits low earners, it hits young people and it hits businesses,” he said.

“We don’t agree that is the appropriate way to do it. Do we accept that we need more investment? Yes we do. Do we accept that NI is the right way to do it? No we don’t.”

No 10 said the PM was committed to social care reform but refused to give any more details.

“We are committed to setting out long-term sustainable reform of the sector and that is what we will do, but beyond that I am not going to be getting into any more speculation,” the Prime Minister’s official spokesman said.

“The challenges that face the social care sector are long-standing and have successively not been addressed, and that is something the Prime Minister is committed to doing.”


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