A majority of Brits now support increasing income tax to fund the NHS

Matthew SmithHead of Data Journalism
July 03, 2018, 7:35 AM GMT+0

Support is up twelve percentage points since January 2017

With the 70th anniversary of the foundation of the NHS on Thursday, new YouGov polling reveals that there has been a noticeable increase in the number of Britons willing to raise tax or National Insurance in order to better fund the health service.

A majority of Brits (54%) now say they would support increasing the basic rate of income tax from 20% to 21% in order to give more money to the NHS. This is up from 42% in January 2017.

Even more popular is the prospect of funding an increase in NHS spending through a National Insurance rise. More than six in ten Brits (62%) would back such a move – up from 53% in January last year.

However, while more popular, increasing National Insurance instead of income tax could end up hitting poorer people harder. This is because even the lowest earners pay National Insurance, but the effects of tax increases on lower earners because no-one has to pay income tax on the first £11,850 they earn. 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.

While there is cross-party backing, the young are less supportive than their elders

There has been a noticeable increase in support among voters of both main parties, with the majority of 2017 Conservative and Labour voters backing the revenue-raising measures.

While the earlier survey was conducted prior to the 2017 general election, we are able to track how respondents went on to vote later that year: 40% of those who went on to vote Conservative and 49% of those who went on to vote Labour supported the tax increase, while 54% and 58% respectively backed the National Insurance rise.

Fast forwarding to June 2018, support for raising tax has risen to 53% among Conservative voters and 61% among Labour voters, while 64% and 68% respectively are up for increasing the National Insurance rate.

Remain and Leave voters are similarly united – 57% and 54% respectively would support the tax increase, while 66% and 62% respectively would support the National Insurance change.

The generations are divided, however, in an inversion of what might normally be expected, with older Britons far more likely to support tax and spend measures than their younger counterparts. For instance, while 70% of those aged 65 or older support raising income tax rates, this falls to just 38% among 18-24 year olds. This may not be so surprising given that older people are greater users of health services, and in any case a plurality of young people still back the two measures.

Photo: Getty

See the full results from 2018 here and the previous results from 2017 here

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