This week, Boris Johnson broke yet another of his promises. I wish I could say I was surprised. This is the biggest rise in taxes on families for over 50 years, with no thought to the impact on working people. It is a disgrace. It was billed as being about social care, but almost all the money is for the NHS. Of course the NHS needs more – it was already struggling – but it needs to be raised fairly.
The Conservative manifesto promised no increases to national insurance contributions, a tax paid by almost all of us. Yet this is the third tax rise on working families from the Conservatives in recent months. Soon, people on low incomes will not only pay more tax, but will have less money in their pocket as the Conservatives cut £20 from Universal Credit payments.
All of this, under the guise of solving the social care crisis. I have spoken to countless families in Cambridge worried about the mounting cost of social care for their parents, grandparents, and disabled relatives. I have spoken to Cambridge pensioners distressed at the thought of losing everything they own. People deserve dignity in old age and care appropriate to their needs. Yet this Conservative plan offers nothing of the sort. The fine print reveals that only a tiny amount of the money raised will go to social care – with no guarantee that people won’t have to sell their home.
The Conservatives have run the NHS into the ground, and now they expect working people to foot the bill. Under their new plan, young people and working people will pay more so that wealthy pensioners can preserve wealth in their large homes. It is only right that those who can afford to pay, do so. This Conservative government will have the young and working, with stagnant incomes and home ownership a far off dream, subsidising wealthy pensioners.
The people this plan should have helped, pensioners with lower incomes, disabled people, and carers, have been sold short. Our broken care system will not be mended through token amounts of money. After working hard all their lives, it is not right that lower income pensioners will still see little support from the government.
When Boris Johnson was elected as Prime Minister, he promised to ‘level up’ this country. I am afraid that this is a severe levelling down. Those hardest hit by the pandemic will now have even less money in their pocket. Pensioners struggling to pay for out of control care costs have been left high and dry. Businesses who have faced huge challenges over the last year and a half will find their recovery is stifled. All after a decade of Conservative government underfunding and weakening our NHS.
When I first heard of these ridiculous plans I thought of all of the residents in care homes across Cambridge that I have visited, who were shamefully abandoned by the government during the height of the covid-19 pandemic. I thought of all the carers I have met, struggling to make ends meet on low wages despite their jobs being essential work. I thought of all the young people I have spoken to in our city, who are struggling to find jobs in the covid economy, and will now take home even less of their wages. I thought of all the small and independent business owners of Cambridge who have been hit hard in recent times, and the rising costs they will now face. All of this, to fix a problem the government created.
What we need is a proper plan for social care, setting out a long term vision for fixing the broken care market. We need to see rapid training of a new care workforce, to meet growing demand. And of course, these carers must be properly rewarded with fair salaries. The costs of this should be met by those who have most – there is plenty of wealth, and it is time is was distributed more fairly.
This crisis is a problem of the government’s making, and it is now time for them to fix it. Working people must not be left to foot the bill.