‘Crazy’ funding has Jeremy Hunt preparing to launch a 10-year NHS spending deal reinforced by a ring-fenced tax.
While on ITV’s Peston on Sunday, Mr Hunt said that while reports of a £4 billion-a-year funding scheme were premature, he conceded that it was time to scrap the NHS’s ‘feast or famine’ approach to funding.
‘We are a taxpayer-funded system, so in the end if we are going to get more resources into the NHS and social care system, it will have to come through the tax system and also through growth in the economy,’ he said.
He added that ministers should be open-minded about ‘innovative forms of taxation’ for his 10-year settlement plan, which may challenge Philip Hammond’s spending review later this year.
Backbenchers have called for an ‘NHS Tax’ to tackle chronic underfunding in the health service, particularly within social care, and to prepare for the impacts of an ageing population.
In 10 years’ time there will be more than a million people aged over 75 in the UK, and roughly 10 million people will live to the age of 100.
‘If you ask the public about the NHS, they are very clear that they would like to see more money going to the NHS, they would be prepared to see some of their own taxes going into the NHS, but they are very clear they want to know that money is actually going into the NHS and social care system,’ continued Mr Hunt.
He then added that a ring-fenced tax is an attractive option because it would guarantee money going directly to the elderly.
Today MPs will call for a new commission to recommend money-raising measures, including Sarah Wollaston, Totnes, chair of the health and social care committee, who said:
‘We call on the government to act with urgency and to take a whole system approach to the funding of the NHS, social care and public health. On behalf of all those who rely on services, we need to break down the political barriers and to agree a way forward.’
With 98 signatures, the letter from the commission warns about the impacts of underfunded and overstretched NHS, public health and social care systems.
Other signatories include Nicky Morgan, Nick Macpherson, Nick Boles, Oliver Letwin and Anna Soubry from the Conservative party and Rachel Reeves, Anna Turley and Ruth Smeeth from Labour.
Prime Minister Theresa May will be questioned on the proposal by the liaison committee on Tuesday 27 March.