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Friday, April 13, 2018

Public backing for Lib Dem policy to fund NHS

As far as I aware the Liberal Democrats are the only party who are proposing to ring-fence a tax rise to provide additional funding for the health service. It has been our policy for some time to try and save the NHS by putting a penny in the pound on income tax to give the NHS and social care services the cash they need.

Now it appears that this idea may be gaining some traction with the public, though it does not look as if we are getting credit for it at present. The Guardian reports that a large face-to-face survey carried out before the winter crisis struck the health service in November has recorded the biggest-ever shift of opinion on the issue.

They say that voters are now ready by nearly two to one to pay more tax to bolster the NHS:

The poll, carried out by the respected British Social Attitudes research centre, has recorded a jump from 41% support for higher taxes in 2014 to 61% at the end of last year. An even higher proportion, nearly nine in 10 people, thought there was a funding crisis.

It also found a matching rise in opinions about the quality of NHS care, with nearly three times as many saying healthcare was declining, with most expecting it to get worse still. Only a fifth thought the standard of care would improve.

They add that concern about the NHS ranks with Brexit as one of the two biggest worries for voters. There is widespread consensus that more money must be found, and there has been a growing debate about the best way of doing it – with opinion divided between raising income tax, raising national insurance (as Gordon Brown did to bring NHS spending to the EU average in 2002) or bringing in a dedicated NHS tax.

The Liberal Democrats have been attempting to lead that debate for some time with their own distinctive policy. Once more we are leading the debate with the ideas and policies that are needed. Now we need to persuade people to listen to us.

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