British Prime Minister Boris Johnson set out plans on Tuesday, this week, to raise taxes on workers, employers, and some investors to try to fix a health and social care funding crisis, angering some in his party by breaking an election promise.
After spending huge amounts of money to fight the COVID-19 pandemic, Johnson is returning to an election pledge to address Britain’s creaking social care system, where costs are projected to double as the population ages over the next two decades.
He also moved to try to tackle a backlog in Britain’s health system, which has seen millions waiting months for treatment from the state-run National Health Service after resources were refocused to deal with COVID-19.
“It would be wrong for me to say that we can pay for this recovery without taking the difficult but responsible decisions about how we finance it,” Johnson told parliament.
Boris Johnson addressing Parliament on his Health and Social Care Reforms on 7th September 2021
“It would be irresponsible to meet the costs from higher borrowing and higher debt,” he said, outlining increases that broke a promise made in his Conservative Party’s 2019 manifesto not to raise such levies to fund social care.
British politicians have tried for years to find a way to pay for social care, though successive Conservative and Labour prime ministers have ducked the issue because they feared it would anger voters and their own parties.
Johnson explained that elderly Britons would no longer face crippling care costs that have forced many to sell their homes, and said he could not have predicted the coronavirus pandemic which has further stretched services.
“You can’t fix health and social care without long-term reform. The plan I’m setting out today will fix all of those problems together,” he said, to jeers and laughter from opposition Labour Party lawmakers.
“I accept that this breaks a manifesto commitment which is not something I do lightly, but a global pandemic was in no one’s manifesto.”
Shortly afterward, his work and pensions minister, Therese Coffey, said Britain would not raise state retirement pensions in line with earnings next year, which also broke a manifesto promise to maintain their commitment to a so-called “triple lock”.