Backlash to BoJo’s Plan to Hit Young and Working Class with Punishing Tax Hike

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Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s plans to batter primarily young and working-class taxpayers through a National Insurance hike are being opposed by the Labour party and other opposition parties as well as swathes of his own party.

The planned increase in National Insurance Contributions (NICs), ostensibly to increase funding for the National Health Service (NHS) and social care, flies directly in the face of commitments to Conservative Party voters in 2019, when their election manifesto took a clear stance against tax rises.

The move — which some believe could prove to be a “read my lips, no new taxes” moment for the British leader — has already been condemned by the opposition Labour Party, despite their own penchant for tax-and-spend policies, with party leader Sir Keir Starmer saying: “We do need more investment in the NHS and social care but National Insurance, this way of doing it, simply hits low earners, it hits young people and it hits businesses.”

“Boris Johnson’s damaging plan to increase National Insurance will unfairly hammer young people, low-paid workers and Scottish families with hundreds of pounds in costs each year — and add to the intergenerational unfairness that Westminster has imposed on younger generations,” said Ian Blackford, who leads the left-separatist Scottish National Party (SNP) contingent in the House of Commons.

“Young people are getting an increasingly bad deal from the UK Government, which is failing to deliver its side of the social contract. Under the Tories, young people face regressive tax rises, thousands in university tuition fee debt, stagnant wages, skyrocketing house prices, poorer pensions, and increased charges for basic necessities like travel, dentistry, and prescriptions,” he complained, pressing home the theme of National Insurance hikes as a way to raise tax revenue being a “regressive tax” on younger and working-class people, not without justification.

But such broadsides have not been limited to just Mr Johnson’s political opponents, with Jake Berry, a backbench MP who leads the  Northern Research Group faction of parliamentarians from the Tory leader’s own party, also hammering home the unfairness of the planned cash grab.

“It doesn’t really seem to me reasonable that people who are going to work in my own constituency in east Lancashire, probably on lower wages than many other areas of the country, will pay tax to support people to keep hold of their houses in other parts of the country where house prices may be much higher,” said Berry in comments quoted by The Times.

“It doesn’t seem fair to me – particularly following this pandemic where so many people have taken great sacrifices to keep people safe, it’s particularly hit the youngest, particularly hit those in work – that we then ask those in work to pay for people to have protection in care,” he added.

He also noted that Health Secretary Sajid Javid, when helping to write the Tories’ anti-tax hike 2019 manifesto as, at the time, Chancellor of the Exchequer, was “a great believer in not racking up the jobs tax”, questioning why he had appeared to have experienced a “Damascene conversion” in his new role.

Party grandees have also come out against a National Insurance hike, with Sir John Redwood MP saying that “A tax on jobs when you want to promote more and better-paid employment is particularly stupid” and former prime minister Sir John Major branding it “regressive”.

Despite this disquiet in the Tory ranks, however, Britain’s mainstream media believes the plan will face little opposition in Cabinet, with rumours of a pending reshuffle leaving government ministers — usually drawn from among the governing parties elected Members of Parliament — keen to avoid being demoted.

The Tories have already raised taxes 1,034 times since regaining office in 2010, initially in coalition with the Liberal Democrats, and the mooted National Insurance increase leave the country with its heaviest national tax burden it has borne since the post-war socialist government of Clement Attlee in the 1950s.

Follow Jack Montgomery on Twitter: @JackBMontgomery
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