BBC Newsnight: UK voters would support NI hike to fund social care says May’s ex-pollster

Queen's Speech: Social care mention 'shameful' says Pierce

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Speaking to Emily Maitlis, James Johnson said: “In the research I’ve done, I’m sure in the research that the Government is seeing in terms of going out and speaking to the public, is that it is quite popular”. Whilst Johnson conceded it was more popular amongst older Britons, he added younger people were also likely to support the measures.

This is in spite of estimates from the Resolution Foundation calculating a 21-year-old earning £20,000 per year would be forced to pay an additional £104 in tax.

In contrast, the think tank added that a 66-year-old would pay no more in tax even if they take home £50,000 per year.

“In the focus groups that I’ve done”, the pollster claimed, “people feel that national insurance is fairer, they feel it is more likely to go to the NHS and social care, and therefore they feel like their money is less likely to be wasted”.

Asked about Sir Andrew Dilnot’s proposal that would see wealthier pensioners also pay national insurance, Theresa May’s former pollster claimed it could work if it were “targeted”.

“I think the danger is if some Tory MPs are talking about the idea of a tax just for over 40s. Again, we tested that when I was in Downing Street and since, and the public really recoiled against that. They feel like it’s their parents and grandparents being punished”, he added.

But the ex-Downing Street pollster also discussed the “disjuncture” between where MPs are and the general public.

He cited how Conservative MPs were nervous in the build-up to the Chancellor’s March Budget following the rumoured tax rises.

However, once Rishi Sunak had announced he would increase corporation tax and introduce a freeze on personal allowance, many MPs looked out of step with the public, who widely supported the measures enacted by Number 11.

Yesterday, pollsters at YouGov broadly confirmed James Johnson’s findings on social care.

They asked 3,121 British adults whether they support or oppose increasing the national insurance base rate to fund social care for the elderly.

Amongst all Britons, 57 percent support the proposed measures compared to just 25 percent who have voiced opposition.

There was even net approval for the one penny increase amongst those aged 18 to 24.

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In 2017, Theresa May’s Conservative Party manifesto pledged to introduce reforms to social care, dubbed the dementia tax.

May’s proposals were unpopular with the public and saw her 24 point pre-campaign lead over Jeremy Corbyn cut to just five points.

Boris Johnson vowed to fix social care “once and for all” when he was elected Tory leader and Prime Minister on the steps of Downing Street in July 2019.

Nonetheless, the Government is now said to have shelved their plans to increase national insurance contributions from 12 to 13 percent until the Autumn.

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