Reynolds discusses the potential rise of National Insurance
Proposals to add up 2p on National Insurance payments alongside ditching the triple lock protection on the state pension were last night described as “madness”.
In what is shaping up to be a crucial week for his leadership, Boris Johnson is facing fury from his own MPs over social care, tax rises, the pension triple lock, a perceived failure to tackle illegal immigration and costly green policies.
Mr Johnson won his 80 seat majority on the back of a swathe of red wall seats – those which would traditionally be expected to vote Labour.
He pledged to ‘level up’ the country.
But backbenchers have said that the Prime Minister is “facing massive discontent” when Parliament returns from the summer recess this week and that things are “likely to kick off” after the suggestion to increase taxes to fund social care plan was floated.
One of the 2019 intake from a northern seat, said: “I did not become a Conservative MP to raise taxes.”
Another red wall Tory added: “We are now the party with the highest tax burden since [former Labour Prime Minister Clement] Attlee.”
The concerns are also coming from Mr Johnson’s cabinet with Leader of the House Jacob Rees-Mogg using his “words of wisdom” column in the Sunday Express today to remind readers of the fate of George Bush sr after he infamously broke his “read my lips, no new taxes” pledge in the 1988 US Presidential election.
State pension: MPs hit out at Rishi Sunak’s plans
Bush senior subsequently lost the 1992 election to Bill Clinton.
Mr Rees-Mogg noted: “Voters remembered these words after President Bush had forgotten them.”
Another red wall MP warned that scrapping the triple lock “is even more unpopular than the tax rises”.
In a reminder of the demise of Mr Johnson’s predecessor, the MP added: “We upset our core voters before with Theresa May and it cost us the 2017 election.”
Mrs May’s controversial election manifesto had included unpopular plans to pay for social care as well as scrapping pensioner benefits and the triple lock.
Veteran Conservative MPs have also waded in warning the Prime Minister over the consequences of his plans.
State pension: There are plans to raise national insurance contributions
Former Work and Pensions Secretary Esther McVey, who founded the Blue Collar working class Conservative movement which swept the red wall seats, said: “National Insurance is a tax on work. It also hits the poorest hardest because there is a cap of £50,000 after which it is not paid.”
Former minister Sir John Hayes, chairman of the Common Sense group who is normally a loyalist, said: “I will be voting against any attempt to get rid of the triple lock on pensions. It was a manifesto promise and if we can pay for furlough, we can pay the pensions.”
North West Leicestershire MP Andrew Bridgen added: “The tax rise is a slippery slope. The Prime Minister may be given a pass on social care but it will not play well.”
State pension: Red Wall MPs have warned of the growing backlash
Meanwhile, Tory MPs are also blaming the Prime Minister for a failure to properly tackle illegal migration across the English Channel on small boats.
One MP said that the issue is “completely toxic” in red wall seats but “nobody in Government seems to be doing anything about it.”
Another MP added: “The Home Secretary and ministers are very keen to take decisive action, but the perception is that they are not being backed up by the Prime Minister.
“The biggest problem is rolling back the Human Rights Act and associated legislation from the Blair administration.”
The Common Sense group is planning on bringing forward amendments to the Immigration Bill to bring in tougher measures to tackle the problem.
On another front, red wall MPs are also furious over green measures.
“We talk about tax rises but we seem to be spending a fortune on these green issues that our voters don’t care about,” one MP said.
“It’s green lunacy,” another added.
In a further blow to the social care plans, a new report has warned that flagship government reforms to integrate social care for the elderly with the NHS is failing to deliver improvements.
State pension: There is growing anger over the plans
The findings by the Centre for Policy Studies (CPS) think tank report, ‘Is Manchester Greater?’, finds that, in Manchester, there was a 65 per cent rise in delayed transfers of care under devolution – far higher than the national average – and generally weaker or unchanged performance on other health outcomes.
The CPS claims that the data also shows a significant decline in productivity, with a 9 per cent increase in the size of the region’s NHS workforce relative to its population, and a 23 per cent increase in the number of senior managers.
This poor performance came in spite of the upfront £450 million transformation fund, which, if repeated nationwide, would lead to a staggering £11 billion funding increase for the NHS and social care, almost the equivalent of the entire NHS budget increase in 2021/22.
Karl Williams, report author and Senior Researcher at the CPS, said: “Ministers need to take a step back and let the pilot schemes run their course so we can properly evaluate their success.
“Now is not the time to push through costly and disruptive reforms that are not supported by the data, especially given the current pressures on the NHS and its staff – which as widely reported, is already facing a record backlog of more than five million people awaiting treatment because of the pandemic.”