Liberal Democrats to consider plan for dedicated NHS tax

19 Sep 16

The Liberal Democrats have set up an expert panel to examine the case for a dedicated NHS and care tax as part of a long-term funding settlement for health provision.

Norman Lamb, a former health minister in the coalition government and now the party’s health spokesman, used his speech at the Liberal Democrat conference to announce the formation of the New Beveridge Group to consider the matter.

The panel takes its name from William Beveridge, the Liberal Party MP who first proposed the formation of the National Health Service in the 1942.

Member of the panel include Dr Clare Gerada, former president of the Royal College of GPs, professor Dinesh Bhugra, former president of the Royal College of Psychiatrists and current president of the World Psychiatric Association, and Patients’ Association chief executive Katherine Murphy.

The panel will report its recommendations to the party in six months time. 

Lamb told delegates at the conference in Brighton that the need for a new long-term settlement in the face of a “real and overwhelming” funding crisis in the health service.

He said: “It is time for a new Beveridge for the 21st century. We need a national conversation about what sort of service we are prepared to pay for. For my part, I am clear. I don't want a hollowed out, bargain-basement service with people with mental ill health still suffering outrageous discrimination in terms of access to treatment.”

He called for a modern, efficient, dynamic NHS and care system that treated mental and physical health equally, and that ensures elderly and disabled people received kind, generous support.

“Let’s look at the case for a dedicated health and care tax, shown on your pay packet. Let's look at whether we could use National Insurance as a basis for such a tax. We need to consider how we could make it more progressive. We need to think about fairness between generations,” he added.

“If we conclude that we all need to pay perhaps an extra penny in the pound then we must be prepared to say it.

“It speaks volumes that such a high powered group of people have agreed to help us in this way. They all understand just how high the stakes are. They understand the urgency of the situation.”

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