Several Greater Lincolnshire MPs who voted in favour of a National Insurance hike, designed to help the health and social care sector recover from the pandemic, appear to now be backing calls from within the Conservative backbench to delay the move by a year, as cost of living soars.
The Health and Social Care Levy was passed through parliament during an MP vote last September, seeking to introduce an extra tax that would go towards helping the NHS recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as funding social care provision.
Part of the plans would see a 1.25% rise in National Insurance from April 2022, with employees paying on wages, employers paying extra for staff, and the self-employed contributing via their profits.
People earning less than £9,564 a year will not be affected by the new levy and will not have to pay National Insurance, but employees on £20,000 a year will have to pay an extra £130 in tax, while those earning £50,000 will pay £505 more.
Ten of the 11 MPs covering Greater Lincolnshire voted in favour of the tax hike, towing the line for their Conservative Party as it passed the vote by a margin of 318 to 248, with Brigg & Goole’s Andrew Percy not recording a vote.
However, with concerns the British public may struggle through the year as a result of the rising cost of living, there are now fresh doubts within government as to whether this increase should be brought in.
Some Tory backbenchers, including Newark MP Robert Jenrick, are asking the government to consider delaying the National Insurance hike for a year, as it could end up contributing to inflation at a time when household finances are already tight.
It is the latest sense of unrest within the government, following the controversy surrounding Sue Gray’s delayed report into Downing Street lockdown parties, and the subsequent Metropolitan Police investigation.
Despite this, both Downing Street and the Prime Minister himself have said there are no plans to delay or scrap the rise, with Boris Johnson saying we “have to fund the COVID backlog”.
The Lincolnite asked all 11 Greater Lincolnshire MPs about the recent concerns raised, and whether they would back the calls for a delay in introducing this extra tax.
Martin Vickers, MP for Cleethorpes, said delaying the tax hike could be “the best way” to offset the financial impact of the rising cost of living for his constituents.
“This highlights the dilemma facing all governments and the backlash was always likely to happen. Just about every poll and survey that has been carried out in recent years shows that the public wouldn’t mind paying increased taxes if the money went into the NHS, but when the time comes it’s very different.
“It’s particularly unfortunate that the increase comes when we are experiencing this massive increase in world energy costs. Ministers are looking at the best way to offset some of the impact on household budgets and one option is to delay the increase.
“That may be the best way. I’ve made clear to ministers that we have to do something to help my constituents.”
Lincoln MP Karl McCartney said he is “willing to consider” both sides of the argument, and assured people the tax increase was not taken lightly.
“As a Conservative MP, I naturally have concerns and hesitancy in any tax increase – but given the ever-increasing cost of living that we are currently experiencing, this increase in taxation is not a decision that has been taken lightly.
“I was glad to see the government’s decision to follow the recommendations of the independent Low Pay Commission and increase the National Living Wage by 6.6% from £8.91 to £9.50. This increase will be effective from April 2022 and covers 23 and 24-year-olds, having been extended to this age group in April 2021.
“I also welcome the decision announced at the Autumn Budget to reduce the Universal Credit taper rate from 63% to 55%, as well as increasing work allowances in Universal Credit by £500 a year. These changes to UC represent an effective tax cut for low income working households in receipt of UC worth £2.2 billion in 2022-23.
“Broad changes to the tax system will benefit 31 million workers, and mean that the first £12,500 any person earns will be completely tax-free.
“Please be reassured that I will be working with my Parliamentary colleagues in the House to ensure the Government continues to help ordinary households up and down the country, and in Lincoln – and I remain willing to consider arguments both for and against any increase in NI.”
Boston & Skegness MP Matt Warman and Brigg & Goole MP Andrew Percy were both unavailable for comment at the time of reporting, while the following MPs did not respond to our request:
- Victoria Atkins – Horncastle & Louth
- Edward Leigh – Gainsborough
- Caroline Johnson – Sleaford & North Hykeham
- Lia Nici – Great Grimsby
- Holly Mumby-Croft – Scunthorpe
- John Hayes – South Holland & The Deepings
- Gareth Davies – Grantham & Stamford