Lib Dem 1p income tax pledge for NHS and care ‘straightforward and honest’
The announcement comes as Theresa May insists the Conservatives have no plans for tax rises.
The Liberal Democrats have said their pledge to put a penny on income tax to fund a cash injection for the NHS and social care is about being “straightforward and honest” with voters.
Described as their “flagship” spending commitment of the election campaign, party leader Tim Farron said the policy was “the first time a party has offered a real alternative to the current decline in health and social care”.
Under the Lib Dem plan, 1p would be added to the basic, higher and additional rates of income tax and the rate of dividend tax from the next financial year, with the £6 billion raised being “ring-fenced” for the NHS, social care and public health.
The announcement comes as Theresa May insists the Conservatives have no plans for tax rises while appearing to back away from a previous pledge not to put up income tax or national insurance.
Speaking during a visit to the Riverside Medical Centre GP surgery, in Vauxhall, south London, Mr Farron told the Press Association: “Politicians are often scared of saying things like this. My view is, you’ve got to be bold and tell the truth if you want to be believed and be supported – and the Liberal Democrats are being very straightforward and honest.”
Mr Farron insisted the public realised the need to address the “chronic state” of healthcare and would support the tax hike.
The party’s health spokesman Norman Lamb said “the NHS is on its knees”, with growing waiting lists and an “insidious trend” of wealthy people “opting out of long waiting times”.
The Lib Dems pointed to an opinion poll finding from last year, which suggested 70% of voters would back a 1p rise in income tax if the money was guaranteed to go to the NHS, to claim strong public support for the plan.
According to figures released by the party, the rise would mean an increase of £33 per year – or less than £1 per week – for someone on £15,000 a year, rising to £133 per year – or less than £3 per week – for someone earning £25,000.
At the top end, someone earning £150,000 would pay an additional £1,500 a year – a £29-a-week increase – while someone on £250,000 would see their annual tax bill rise by £2,500 – an increase of £48 per week.
In the longer term, the Lib Dems said they would bring in a dedicated health and care tax, bringing spending on both services together in a collective budget while setting out on people’s payslips what is being spent on them.
The party said it would also seek to establish a cross-party health and care convention to review longer term sustainability of the health and care finances while setting up an office of health and care funding, similar to the Office for Budget Responsibility.