The Liberal Democrats are setting out a ‘five-point recovery plan’ for NHS and social care services in their manifesto, including a 1p in the pound rise in dividend and income tax allocated specifically for health and care service to provide the cash injection that the NHS needs.
The Key elements of the five point recovery plan are:
– A 1 percent rise on the basic, higher, additional and dividend rates of income tax in the next financial year raising around £6bn per year, which will be ringfenced to be spent on NHS and care services and public health.
– To direct this additional investment into priority areas: social care, primary care (and other out of hospital care), mental health and public health which we know represent the most efficient and effective ways of spending extra resource
– In the longer term, we will introduce a dedicated Health and Care Tax, which will bring together spending on both services into a collective budget and set out transparently, on people’s payslips, what we spend on them.
– Establish a cross-party health and care convention, working with patients, the public and NHS and care staff to review longer-term sustainability of the health and care finances and workforce, and greater integration
– Introduce a statutory independent budget monitoring agency for health and care. An Office of Health and Care Funding, similar to the Office for Budget Responsibility. This would report every three years on how much money the system needs based on meeting Government health targets and to fund new initiatives, while also covering projected increases in demand.
Why is this funding needed?
Our health and care services are in a state of crisis. The Conservative Government has left them chronically under-funded, while need continues to grow. Social care is facing a funding blackhole of £2bn this year alone and more than a million older people are missing out on care that they need.
People are routinely left stranded in hospital after they finish their treatment because the follow up care and support they need isn’t available. Nearly two thirds of NHS Trusts ended the last financial year in deficit.
We cannot continue asking the system to deliver more and more, without giving it the resources to do so. The alternative to raising taxes is that the Government will have to cut drastically from other essential public services, like schools and welfare, to keep the health and care system afloat.
What is the policy in detail?
- The Liberal Democrats will put in place a 1 percent increase on the basic, higher, additional rates of income tax and on the rate of dividend tax. This will raise, approximately, an additional £6bn per annum.
- Additional revenue raised would be ring-fenced to be spent only on NHS and social care services.
- As part of this, we would direct additional resource specifically to out of hospital care. Primarily: social care, general practice, mental health and public health/ prevention. This is where the money can be spent most efficiently and will have the greatest impact on patient care.
How will this be divided between health and social care
We will ensure at least £2bn additional revenue is dedicated for social care in the next financial year, to fill the projected funding gap.
The impact of this investment will be felt across the NHS too – at the moment 89% of GPs think reductions in social care are leading to extra pressures in their surgeries. and 93% think that the lack of social care is leading to extra pressure on A&Es and contributing to increased delayed discharges from hospital.