Liberal Democrat Member of Parliament Norman Lamb has told his party conference that they should seek to introduce a new, separate NHS tax which would be itemised on workers’ payslips. Overall taxes would not increase as the levy would be offset by reductions in income tax, he said, but added that local areas would be able to raise rates.
Invoking the spirit of William Beveridge, “that great Liberal, the architect of the welfare state,” Lamb told his colleagues what is needed is a “new Beveridge Report for the 21st Century,” to allow the “vast” welfare budget to be used “more creatively.”
As part of the modernising process, Lamb envisions a tax regime in which funding for the NHS is raised separately, allowing local rates to be set.
“I am very interested in the idea of a dedicated NHS and care contribution – separating it out from the rest of taxation, clearly identified on your pay slip,” he said. “And I am really interested in the idea of the right for local areas to raise additional funds for the NHS and care if they choose.
“Why can’t my county of Norfolk decide to spend more on vital services for older people, to improve cancer services or for mental health if it chooses?”
He warned that the system as it currently stands is on the verge of collapse. Citing his experience within the Department of Health during the coalition government, Lamb said that by 2020, the NHS will be facing a £30 billion funding shortfall, £20 billion of which will have to be bridged through efficiency savings under Conservative plans.
In social care, funded by local government, the country is looking at a £5 billion shortfall in the same period. “to put this in context, France and Germany spend about a third more on healthcare compared to the UK,” he said.
Setting out his plan, he conveyed his intention to start a “national conversation” on how these challenged can be met. “We have to talk about the emerging crisis in care,” he insisted.
“I will travel the country meeting with people, patients, carers, local authorities, charities, health leaders, doctors and nurses, public, private and voluntary sector. We will invite contributions from think-tanks, from academics and from trade unions.
“We will confront both the need for more resources and for change.”
Mr Lamb’s plans on NHS taxation are not official Liberal Democrat policy, nor were they voted on at the conference. In addition, he made no effort to promote them during his time as a Health minister.
Commenting on the idea, Alex Wild, Research Director at the TaxPayers’ Alliance, told Breitbart London:
“Hypothecation as suggested by Norman Lamb is a common way politicians try to raise taxes in the least unpopular way, but the effect on taxpayers is exactly the same – less money in their pockets. When National Insurance was introduced people understood what it was there for, but it’s just morphed into another income tax which doesn’t pay for anything specific.
“There’s no reason to believe Mr Lamb’s NHS tax would be any different.”
Lamb, who lost out to Tim Farron in the bid to be the new Liberal Democrat leader also offered his congratulations to his rival, saying “Tim, you will have my complete support.”