Snap poll: Britons split 44% to 43% on increasing National Insurance increase to fund NHS and social

Matthew SmithHead of Data Journalism
September 07, 2021, 2:14 PM UTC

The generations are at odds on how fair the move is

Boris Johnson today announced that he would increase National Insurance by 1.25 percentage points, along with an accompanying increase in dividend taxes, in order to plug a funding shortfall in the NHS and properly finance social care.

Britons are split on the National Insurance increase, with 44% in favour compared to 43% opposed. Older Britons are substantially more supportive, with 68% of those aged 65 and above supporting the reform compared to only 23% who oppose it. By contrast, only 26% of 18-24 year olds back boosting NI, while 47% are opposed.

Conservative voters are likewise more supportive than Labour voters, with the former group backing them by 59% to 34% while the latter oppose it by 55% to 33%.

The fairness of using National Insurance to fund social care has been much debated over the last couple of days, with an array of forces aligning against the government to condemn them as punishing the young and poor to benefit the old.

Asked how fair they thought raising National Insurance and dividend taxes was on people like themselves, Britons overall tend to consider it unfair. While four in ten (41%) think the move is very or somewhat fair, almost half (49%) say it is either not very fair or not fair at all.

Again, opinion differs by age - the older Britons are, the more likely they are to consider it fair. Britons aged 65+ consider the move fair by 60% to 30%. Britons under the age of 65 tend to say it is not fair, including 51% of 50-64 year olds, 54% of 25-49 year olds and 62% of 18-24 year olds.

The Conservatives had pledged in their 2019 election manifesto that they would not increase National Insurance, a point Labour leader made to Boris Johnson in his response earlier today. The prime minister countered that a global pandemic had not been in anyone’s manifesto, and claimed that the public would understand the necessity of the action.

As it turns out, the public disagree – 53% say it was acceptable to go back on the pledge not to raise NI, while 32% say the move was unacceptable.

However, Conservative voters tend to be understanding, with 49% deeming it an acceptable move, although 40% think it was unacceptable. Labour voters are more likely to condemn the Tories for breaking their manifesto promises, with 69% saying it was unacceptable vs 20% who think it was acceptable.

See the full results here, here and here