Social care: Boris Johnson under pressure from own MPs to not impose national insurance hike

ITV News Correspondent Romilly Weeks looks back at the government's promises for social care and national insurance

Boris Johnson is facing pressure from within his own party not to impose a national insurance hike to pay for social care.

The move would break the Prime Minister's own manifesto pledge to leave the cost of national insurance alone.

Labour has called for a cross-party approach to social care and urged the government not to add "more pressure" onto working age people.

On Sunday, government minister Nadhim Zahawi refused to say if people should be paying more tax in order to pay for social care.

The government is set to announce this week plans to raise the funds to reform social care and tackle the huge backlog in the NHS caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

Social care 'has gone unsolved for far too long' says Lisa Nandy

Labour's Lisa Nandy told ITV News her party was "concerned about the impact of loading more pressure onto the working age population."

The shadow foreign secretary said: "We're very willing to talk to the Prime Minister about trying to reach a cross-party consensus on social care.

"It is the pressing issue of our domestic agenda that has gone unsolved for far too long."

When quizzed on The BBC's Andrew Marr on Sunday, Zahawi refused to answer whether people should pay more tax to fund social care.

In contast, justice secretary Robert Buckland on Friday appeared to acknowledge a national insurance hike would hit young people more severely than older generations, who are not required to pay the tax after retiring.

"All of us at some stage are going to be elderly", Mr Buckland told ITV News, "and therefore this is an inter-generational issue and that means that all of us have a responsibility to shoulder that burden."

A split appears to have formed between senior Cabinet ministers over how much to raise national insurance by, with suggestions it could be as high as 2%.

Former prime minister Sir John Major has joined a growing group of Conservatives warning against the widely-expected move, branding it "regressive".

Sir John, speaking at the FT Weekend Festival, said: “The government are going to have to take action to deal with social care and that is going to mean an increase in taxation.

“I don’t think they should use national insurance contributions, I think that’s a regressive way of doing it. I would rather do it in a straightforward and honest fashion and put it on taxation.”

Any increase in taxation would be a breach of the 2019 Tory manifesto, with it containing a personal “guarantee” from Mr Johnson not to raise income tax, VAT or national insurance.

A cross-party group of politicians has warned of a 'social care crisis.' Credit: PA

A significant number of Tories accept some sort of tax rise is necessary but, like former health secretary Jeremy Hunt, are calling for it to not take the form of a national insurance hike.

Critics argue it would disproportionately affect younger and lower income workers, while pensioners would not pay extra.

Tory MP Marcus Fysh said he was “alarmed at the apparent direction of travel” of the government, warning against a “socialist approach to social care”.

“I do not believe it is Conservative to penalise individuals of working age and their employers with higher taxes on their employment when our manifesto promised not to,” he wrote in the Sunday Telegraph.

A source close to Health Secretary Sajid Javid this week strongly denied he had pushed for an increase to national insurance as high as 2%.

Health Secretary Sajid Javid said the vaccines help protect society as a whole Credit: Steve Parsons/PA

But they did not dispute that he had argued for a rise of more than 1%, which Chancellor Rishi Sunak is said to have opposed.

Labour has voiced its opposition of an increase to national insurance, but Sir Keir Starmer will come under pressure to set out how he would fund social care reforms.

A second electoral promise is expected to be broken in swift succession, with ministers reportedly preparing to announce that the state pensions triple lock will be temporarily replaced with a “double lock”.

This is because distortions to wages during the coronavirus crisis could mean pensioners would get a payment rise of as much as 8%, while workers face tighter times.

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