No 10 fails to deny National Insurance hike to pay for social care

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owning Street has not denied that National Insurance contributions could be increased to fund a new social care plan, in a move that would break a Conservative manifesto pledge.

Boris Johnson is reportedly considering plans to raise National Insurance payments by one percentage point for employers and employees to raise £10 billion a year to help support the ageing population.

The Prime Minister is yet to get a deal over the line but is understood to be close, and has declined to rule out tax rises to pay for his long-awaited social care reforms.

Downing Street on Tuesday also declined to deny suggestions that a controversial National Insurance rise could form a central part of Mr Johnson’s proposals.

“There’s continued speculation but I’m simply not going to be engaged with that speculation,” the Prime Minister’s official spokesman said in the first in-person briefing for Westminster journalists since before the first lockdown.

It’s been around for a long time this issue, and we really do need to get to grips with it

“The process for agreeing our proposals is still ongoing.

“We will set that out before the end of the year.”

The plan is not expected before the autumn, with the Commons set to rise for its summer break following Thursday’s business.

There had been widespread expectation that a plan would be put forward before the summer, but the three main players who would be involved in the decision – the Prime Minister, Chancellor and Health Secretary – are all self-isolating.

Earlier, business minister Paul Scully said he did not recognise reports in the newspapers, but he told Sky News: “We’ll see what happens in terms of when we announce our details on social care.”

He said: “What we do want to happen is to make sure that we can come up with a comprehensive programme to tackle social care. It’s been around for a long time this issue, and we really do need to get to grips with it, and that’s what the Prime Minister and the Health Secretary are really determined to do.”

Mr Johnson said he would soon set out how to respond to the challenge of the cost of social care, two years since he used his first speech as Prime Minister to promise to “fix the crisis in social care once and for all with a clear plan we have prepared”.

Boris Johnson

/ PA

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