Tim Farron Wants To Raise Taxes To Fund The NHS: Do We Actually Need To?

Does the NHS actually need more cash?

Most health think-tanks agree it does. In 2015 the NHS was given a promise of £8bn a year and until 2020 to find £22bn “in efficiency savings”. But since then its deficit has ballooned. There is a crisis among GPs and AE departments, and now NHS bosses have warned winter is coming and they will be short of staff and beds. It is certainly not on track to find £22bn in four years time.

The exception to the rule is Reform – Andrew Hallendby thinks extra funding might actually hamper the process of making the NHS more efficient.

“In the heath debate there tends to be two positions: change the way the thing operates, and give the old system more money. The Lib Dems seem to be on the latter”, he says.

The KingsFund, on the other hand, has explicitly called on parties to “face up” to the NHS crisis. 

“As the party conference season begins, it is essential that all the parties face up to the need for an honest debate about how to provide adequate funding to meet future needs for health and social care”, it has said.

What are the options?

1. Raising income tax

This is what the Lib Dems propose. But only about 40% of the population would support it, according to the latest Social Attitudes survey. 

2.  Raising national insurance

Back in 2002 Labour put national insurance up by 1p to fund the NHS, and the public largely supported it. But things were different back then. Blair had just won two landslides, and public finances were in a strong position. 

It wasn’t properly ring-fenced either, and just over half ended up in NHS coffers. Since then various Labour MPs have suggested bringing it back, properly protected this time.

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