Following the Prime Minister's announcement on his Plan for Health & Social Care, MP for the Two Cities, Nickie Aiken, gave the following statement.
During the summer recess, I spent a week looking after my father who is living with advanced Alzheimer’s while my mother had a respite holiday. I experienced what millions of people up and down the country live with day in day out, month after month caring for their loved ones in similar circumstances and I pay tribute to every single one of them. Equally, I am in awe of our care professionals working in care homes and those who provide care services in people’s homes. I believe the covid-19 pandemic has shone a light on the outstanding service they all provide for which I am grateful.
It is this recent experience, as well as having been a Council Leader where 40% of the local authority’s budget was spent on adult social services which has led me to accept that if we are to reform social care and ensure that all those in need receive the dignified care they all deserve then extra funding is required. I believe that such a levy as proposed would have been necessary even before the pandemic. However, now with the nation’s finances in the position they currently are, with the Government having spent over £400bn keeping the economy and businesses afloat, raising further revenue is now a must.
I therefore accepted the arguments both the Prime Minister and the Health & Social Care Secretary have made in their reasons why they are proposing the new levy.
During the Prime Minister’s statement in the Commons this week, I sought assurances that, through the Health and Social Care Levy, money raised will go to fund local authorities who are on the front line of providing social care. I am firmly of the view that not all the money raised should go to the NHS but to councils too. As I understand the situation, in total £36 billion will be invested in the health and care system over the next three years to ensure it has the long term resources it needs.
Having looked at the proposals, I note that the 1.25% proposed Levy means someone working full time on National Living Wage earning £16,216 would pay around £1.50 per week. With such investments, patients will benefit from the biggest catch-up programme in the NHS’s history, so people no longer face excessive waits for treatment. This will provide an extra 9 million checks, scans, and operations; and increase NHS capacity to 110 per cent of its pre-pandemic levels by 2023-24.
I appreciate that some people highlighted that the young will be burdened more than the older generations when it comes to the levy and that this is a tax on low paid workers. I note that the highest-earning 14 per cent in the country will pay over half the levy, and the Government has also announced an equivalent increase in dividend tax rates and the suspension of the pension triple lock which would have seen an 8.8% increase in the state pension next year which I agree would be unfair at this time. Instead it will rise by 2.5% or inflation.
As a Conservative, I believe in a low tax economy. I also please in financial responsibility and following the pandemic I do feel that we are not in the same position as a country that we were pre-pandemic, thus it is right to raise funds in order to support the NHS deal with the immense backlog of waiting lists and also take the necessary and fair steps to give our health and care services the backing and funding they need in order to recover from the effects of the pandemic and ensures the health and wellbeing of residents here in the Two Cities.