Tory MPs have been asked for their views on a new NHS tax in the clearest indication yet that Number 10 is considering hiking taxes to increase funding for the health service. In multiple meetings with Theresa May’s aides, MPs have been asked for their views on both a hypothecated tax and a general tax rise. Downing Street has detected some support – an NHS tax should theoretically clear the Commons as Labour could hardly vote against. Jeremy Hunt has previously claimed the public supports “contributing more through the tax system”, though Philip Hammond has argued against a ringfenced tax. The Tories are expected to announce a major funding boost for the NHS on its 70th anniversary on July 5.
The tax burden is already now higher than it was under the dead hand of Gordon Brown in 2009 and it will, if the OBR is correct, hit a level not seen for two generations. The day at which the average person starts to keep what they earn rather than pay it to the state in taxes is now later than at any time since 1995 – even worse than under new Labour. Britain now has a higher tax burden than Spain, the share of GDP taken in tax is a full 10 points higher than it is in Ireland and 8 points higher than the traditionally low tax USA. If the Tories want to spend more on the NHS it can be done without raising taxes – that wasn’t on the side of the bus.