National Insurance hike to fund social care poses a serious moral question, says Archbishop of Canterbury
- Justin Welby blasted plans to increase national insurance as not ‘people-centred’
- He said privileging pensioners over poor people posed a ‘serious moral question’
- It comes as Tory MPs voted through a plan to raise NI by 1.25 percentage points
The Archbishop of Canterbury has blasted ministers’ plans to increase national insurance, saying it could pose a ‘serious problem’ for low-income workers.
Speaking after his return from sabbatical, Justin Welby said that privileging wealthy pensioners over the poorest young people posed ‘a very serious moral question’.
And he slammed the policy as one that was not ‘people-centred’.
He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: ‘The test is not just in terms of money, the test is in terms of effectiveness.
Speaking after his return from sabbatical, Justin Welby (pictured) said that privileging wealthy pensioners over the poorest young people posed ‘a very serious moral question’
‘If [the policy] pushes more young people into poverty and means they can’t get their own house and things like that – which I’m aware of from our own children… that is going to be a really serious problem.’
Pressed further on whether the proposals were fair, the Archbishop replied: ‘It sounds to me as though there’s a willingness to engage but the detail is going to take a lot of working out, and we’re not there yet.’
His comments come after Tory MPs voted through a proposal to raise NI by 1.25 percentage points through a new ring-fenced tax known as the ‘health and social care levy’.
He added: ‘The question of how you pay for social care, pay for the care of the elderly and particularly the poorest elderly is a really difficult one.’
Asked whether it was right that lower-income workers would pay disproportionately more, given pension and renting income was not covered by the levy, he said: ‘That is a very serious moral question.
‘If we – as it were – privilege the wealthy older against the poorest younger, that will not work. That’s not a people-centred policy.
The Archbishop of Canterbury (pictured) slammed ministers’ plans to increase national insurance as one that was not ‘people-centred’
‘The policy needs to be centred on people and care for the poorest, as well as ensuring that we have an embedded system that will work and is acceptable to all.’
He also urged the government – which is facing further spending dilemmas this autumn – to follow the principle of making sure that ‘the burden is born by those with the broadest shoulders’.
Helen Whately, the care minister, defended the NICs rise, saying: ‘I don’t want us to raise tax, but we had a really difficult choice here.’
She told Sky News: ‘We know we desperately need to do social care reform, and governments for decades have not been able to work out the way to fund that, to move that forward.
‘So what we’ve got here is a package that means we can both treat all those people who need treatment under the NHS, and we can embark on those once-in-a-generation social care reforms.’
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