Half of Britons support raising taxes to fund the NHS

Matthew SmithHead of Data Journalism
November 13, 2019, 9:39 AM GMT+0

Increasing income tax to pay for the NHS is supported by voters for all parties

With Labour set to make the NHS one of the central pillars of their election campaign, the party has pledged to increase spending on health by raising income tax on the highest 5% of earners.

Now a new YouGov survey shows that ordinary Britons are perfectly willing to stump up extra cash for the NHS themselves.

Half (53%) of Britons say they would support increasing the basic rate of income tax from 20% to 21% and using the money raised to increase spending on the NHS. Fewer than a third of people (31%) are opposed. These figures are largely unchanged from the previous time we asked, in June 2018.

The cash-raising proposal has support across all voters. Two thirds (66%) of those who intend to vote Labour and 62% of Lib Dem voters would back the measure, while 51% of Brexit Party voters and 50% of Tory voters likewise are in support.

More popular still would be raising the rate of employees’ National Insurance contributions from 12% to 13% and using the proceeds on the NHS. More than six in ten Britons (63%) would support such a move. Again, this move has cross-party appeal, being backed by 64-65% of Tories and Brexit Party voters and 73-74% of Labour and Lib Dem voters. Only 20% of Britons would oppose such a change.

However, while more popular, increasing National Insurance instead of income tax could end up hitting poorer people harder. This is because even the very lowest earners pay National Insurance, but no-one has to pay income tax on the first £12,500 they earn, partially shielding lower earners from the impact of tax increases. Additionally, because well-off pensioners have to pay income tax but don’t have to pay National Insurance, a tax increase would see better-off pensioners contributing as well.

On this basis it is perhaps not surprising that, even accounting for the differing levels of “don’t know” responses, Britons aged over 65 are more likely to support raising National Insurance than those under 65.

Only a third of Britons (35%) would support keeping NHS spending at current levels while leaving tax and national insurance rates unchanged, although this is up from 28% in 2018. They are almost evenly matched by the 38% who are opposed to the status quo, with the remaining 28% unsure.

Photo: Getty

See the full results here

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