The government is planning to increase national insurance to help fix social care.
On the face of it, few proposals look more reasonable – not least because we all have a sense that paying for things like social care is what national insurance is there for. If social care needs more money, why not increase national insurance?
The reality is a messy swindle that will short change everyone. It robs people on low incomes of take-home pay they sorely need, makes it more expensive to hire staff when there’s a national recruitment crisis and conveniently leaves out older generations from footing any of the bill, all while not doing nearly enough to actually fix social care.
Let us be clear about one thing: social care is in crisis, and not just for older adults – working age adult social care and children’s social care are also in dire need of major reform. The current system is chronically underfunded, leaves service users with awful quality, and is a disjointed mess, lying between local councils and the NHS, leading to all sorts of bureaucratic barriers.
But why is social care the one area of spending we feel like we have to ‘fix’ with new tax rises? When we needed money to pay for test and trace, or furlough, the government didn’t come out and announce how it would fund it through taxation. Similarly, when we renew Trident, we aren’t told what tax will pay for it. What makes social care different?
The cynical answer is that it is to keep up the great fiction of “national insurance”, which many of us still believe is some separate pot we pay into each month, funding our own pensions, social care, and more.