Wednesday, June 29

Conservatives Riot Over Welfare, And Boris Johnson’s “Clear Plan” Won’t Work | Polly toynbee

TThe spectacle of the conservative party in a frothy rage is a poignant spectacle. Those in the cabinet report freely – Jacob Rees-Mogg’s head high above the parapet – while every group of WhatsApp Conservative MPs rages against increasing national insurance to fund social care and the NHS.

It is difficult to find a loyal voice, beyond the ministerial payroll that is diligently sent to the television studios to be beaten. Anger arises at the prospect of breaking the promises of the manifesto: not raising the top three taxes and not breaking the triple lock on the pension (although his hunting horns were strangely silenced by the broken promise not to cut off foreign aid).

The conservative press puts on a splendid fireworks display. “The last thing we need is a new wave of taxes to crush the company,” says the Mail on sunday; “Conservatives at war over ‘idiot’ tax hike,” splatters the Sunday Telegraph. Quotes obtained elsewhere make for good fun read, including Marcus Fysh, MP for Yeovil: “Ministers who want to be socialists should no longer be ministers. ” A Unnamed MP He says, “What they propose is a one-size-fits-all social gulag … a horrible dystopian future.” Anger against the net zero climate goal also adds to the mix.

On the other wing, a wiser cacophony, of the likes of John Major, Damian Green, Jeremy Hunt and Philip Hammond, denounce the great injustice of raising this tax through national insurance. The lowest paid workers start paying with earnings of just £ 10,000, while the 66-year-olds pay nothing, with zero tax on dividends or rent.

As the BBC’s Andrew Marr bluntly told billionaire minister Nadhim Zahawi, a Hartlepool rental worker will pay hundreds more, while someone, ‘let’s call him Nadhim Zahawi, who has millions and millions of pounds of rental property in central London , pay to”. nothing at all, dodly squat. Now that’s not fair. “Marr also upset him with generational injustice:” A 25-year-old with £ 20,000 will pay £ 104, but a 66-year-old earning £ 55,000 pays absolutely nothing. “

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Expect these objections to be repeated in all media reports. The government will seek to correct generational injustice with a one-year break in the triple-lock pension “Saving” £ 5 billionThis is not savings, but correcting a statistical phenomenon when a drop in earnings followed by a rebound caused a apparent salary increase of 8.8%. Matching that would give pensioners a super bonanza. But here’s some ghastly savings hidden in the Office of Budget Responsibility budget report: £ 1.5 billion will be recovered in state pensions of the thousands of Covid dead.

Boris Johnson will move on: the majority of his deputies and his entire cabinet will bow. Why? Because YouGov finds that two-thirds of voters are willing to pay for additional national insurance to fund the NHS and social care. For that, the government relies on public ignorance. People prefer to pay for national insurance in the false belief that it pays for their NHS and pensions, although in reality it is just another less fair income tax, a relic favored by chancellors for that convenient illusion.

Still, welfare is a potential political mine. Many voters I do not realize It’s not free: when they learn that they have to pay a cap of, say, £ 80,000 before the state takes over, some are outraged, not appreciating that this protects the rest of their inheritance. That’s what tripped up Labor Health Secretary Andy Burnham’s excellent plan in 2009, condemned as an “inheritance tax.” That’s what Theresa May sank into in her 2017 manifesto, condemned as a “dementia tax.”

This is Johnson’s biggest risk. Unless you reform national insurance to impose it on retirees and unearned income, this injustice will break the political sound barrier. You can forget about ‘leveling up’ – a catchphrase that would eventually be shattered by this, along with the £ 20 universal credit cut in the coming weeks, just as thousands of young workers get off leave and fall into unemployment.

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Labor Keir Starmer rejects the use of national insurance for this tax, while Rachel Reeves, the shadow Chancellor, tells me: “Broader shoulders should pay more. Any tax increase must be fair between generations. and all forms of income, including assets. “But when asked,” So what would Labor do? “party spokesmen resist, waiting to expose their tax reforms in the election. In the white heat of this row, there is no time for so much caution.In the Commons they need a clear answer right now: Get this right and they may land blow after blow in the coming fall of austerity in spending.

Somehow Downing Street is enjoying the crescendo of a conservative party dispute: voters as leaders resisting their own party ideologues. Plus, Johnson needs a fake “big spender” disguise for the cuts ahead.

But this crisis of care will not disappear from the news. Those who care see no sign of the “clear plan” that Johnson claimed to have on his first day at Issue 10: “We will fix the crisis in social care once and for all,” he said at the time. The £ 10bn likely to be raised for care is below the An investment of £ 12.5 billion is needed only to return to the poor funding of 2010. Most will continue alleviate costs For property-owning families in the South East of England, with far less to improve the quality of care or a lousy salary for staff, which is going in droves.

What’s more, the “plan” is to give the NHS the first leg to reduce waiting lists, as that is the main concern of the public. In both services there is a raucous laugh at the fantasy that when those lists disappear (really?), The remaining cash will be transferred from the NHS to care. There will be nothing left of a degraded NHS after a decade of underfunding greater than any it has ever faced.

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Pending funding, Mike Padgham, director of the four St Cecilia nursing homes in Scarborough, and also representing 250 small nursing home owners in the north of England, asks: “Where is the plan?”

“Raising money is welcome,” he says, “but who is it for? Is it for tips and is it fenced off? “You need to raise your caregivers’ pay at NHS rates, as you once promised, but you don’t see signs of high fees to cover that.” I’m losing staff. “And like your members, you have 10% vacancies. The rule of “no punch, no work” will make them go more: when I visited him recently, he had six people who refused to vaccinate. He has only persuaded two, “but I can’t let four go, with the winter arriving. “He has written to residents’ families asking them to volunteer to help,” it’s so desperate. “Since this tax has already been promised many times, there will be major disappointments.

Backing up, how strange that Boris Johnson, of all people, nailed his reputation to the unlikely cause of welfare. If you use national insurance, such an unfair tax can provoke outrage even in a country that is generally not affected by inequality. You may still regret entering this graveyard of other leaders.

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