We use your sign-up to provide content in ways you’ve consented to and to improve our understanding of you. This may include adverts from us and 3rd parties based on our understanding. You can unsubscribe at any time. More info
A Number 10 spokesman said: “We are committed to introducing that [tax rise] in April.” But a backbench revolt against the increase was intensifying last night.
A senior Tory MP called on the Prime Minister and Chancellor to urgently consider a windfall tax on energy firms and massive cuts in the overseas aid budget as an alternative way to raise billions for the NHS and social care system.
Former minister Robert Halfon said: “People across the country are worrying about feeding and clothing their families. Action must be taken to support the most vulnerable in our communities.”
His plea came as a forecast yesterday estimated that oil giants Shell and BP have netted £7billion in profits between them while motorists face near record prices at the petrol pumps.
The Tory rift over the proposed 1¼ percent hike in National Insurance contributions widened yesterday when Downing Street and Treasury officials attempted to end the doubts over whether the move will go ahead as scheduled.
Speculation has been growing after Mr Johnson appeared unwilling to publicly confirm the policy was going ahead and officials would only say there were “no plans” for a delay or cancellation of the tax rise.
In a clear toughening of the Government’s stance, a spokesman for the Prime Minister yesterday robustly rejected suggestions from Tory backbenchers that Mr Johnson had “gone wobbly” on the policy.
“The Prime Minister and Chancellor are fully committed to introducing the health and social care levy in April,” the spokesman said.
“We’ve spoken before about why we are doing that, in order to give the NHS the funds it needs to tackle the backlog that has built up, as well as tackling the long-term issue of social care. So as I say, we are committed to introducing that in April.”
Asked to guarantee no U-turn on the policy, the spokesman said: “As I say, we are introducing it in April.”
He said that ultimately the public would support the aims of the national insurance rise to raise cash for tackling the NHS treatment backlog left by the covid pandemic and fix the adult social care system.
“Of course we understand that people may not want to pay more in tax.
“But we’ve set out the rationale for this and I think it’s clear that one of the public’s number one priorities is to support the NHS and to help the NHS,” the spokesman said.
Asked if the rise was coming in “no ifs, no buts”, the spokesman said: “Yeah.”
Treasury insiders insisted Chancellor Rishi Sunak and the Prime Minister were united over the issue, denying speculation the pair have been discussing delaying or watering down the tax hike.
A source close to the Chancellor said: “There haven’t been any discussions about delay or cancelling. The position has been the same all the way through.”
Tory frontbencher Chris Philp also insisted the rise was going ahead yesterday.
The parliamentary under-secretary at the Culture and Media department said: “Yes, it is going ahead.
“It was approved by the whole Cabinet, it was passed by Parliament with a significant majority, and the money is needed to fund the NHS, which I think is something that is a national priority.
“It is £36 billion over three years to fund the NHS and social care.
“We need to put that money in to make sure the NHS has the resources it needs to recover after the pandemic, and this is a proportionate way of finding that money.”
But Mr Halfon, the chairman of the Commons Education Committee, insisted the rising cost of living should force a Government rethink on the tax rise.
He said: “We are going to have a cost-of-living crisis next year. It is not just going to suddenly magic away.
“People are struggling at the moment because of everything that has happened with Covid, because of energy bills.
“If we borrow, we are just deferring taxation.
“What I think the Government should do is look at it again and look at how to raise that £12 billion, and whether or not it is possible to have windfall taxes on businesses, possibly to increase capital gains tax, to raise the funds that are needed, but we need a cost-of-living package in general.
“I would like to see the £4 billion they have saved from cutting overseas aid, to use that to cut taxes for the lower paid as well, and also to do something on the green levies which we know amount to roughly 25 percent of our energy bills.
“If they introduced a green escalator going downwards because the international energy price is so high, it could make a huge significant difference to people’s energy bills as they go up by many hundreds of pounds from April onwards.”
Shell is set to announce quarterly results next Thursday.
Analysts expect the firm to reveal profits of almost £4.3billion – equivalent to just over £32,000 an hour, or the same as an average NHS nurse earns in a year.
BP follows in February 8, with analysts forecasting it made almost £3billion in the final three months of last year.
Source: Read Full Article