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Tax the wealthy to pay for social care, says TUC

Union body calls for rise in Capital Gains Tax and £10 hourly minimum for care workers

THE wealthy must be taxed more to provide long-term funding for social care, the TUC demanded today.

Amid reports that ministers are preparing a rise of 1.25 per cent in national insurance payments in a piecemeal bid to stem the crisis in the care sector, the union body has proposed an increase in capital gains tax as a fairer and sustainable alternative.

It also published a poll indicating that a huge majority of people — 83 per cent — want to see care workers paid at least £10 an hour, a move that would give more than half a million workers, most of them women, a desperately needed pay rise.

As Health Secretary Sajid Javid was forced to deny that he had been lobbying for a 2 per cent rise in national insurance, the TUC’s position drew support from opposition and pensioners’ leaders demanding that the government abandon its regressive plan.

The TUC said that its proposed reform of capital gains tax could raise £17 billion a year, which would cover the cost of a £10 minimum hourly wage and provide up to £16bn to invest in better social care services.

Calling for a permanent end to wealth and assets being taxed at a lower rate than wages, the body said it was “plain wrong” that a low-paid social care worker pays a bigger share of income toward social care than a private equity boss who asset-strips care homes to sell on.

The poll of working adults, conducted by BritainThinks, revealed that 86 per cent believe that improving working conditions for social staff will improve the quality of care services.

The 83 per cent who believed that care workers should be on at least £10 an hour included more than three-quarters (77 per cent) of those who said they voted Tory in 2019.

TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: “Our dedicated care workers have risked their lives to care for our loved ones during the pandemic: now it is time we cared for them.

“Every care worker in Britain should be paid a wage they can live on — and that means at least £10 per hour.

“Any plan to fix social care funding must also fix pay for workers in the sector, and working people shouldn’t bear the burden of funding social care alone.

“The Prime Minister should be asking those who make a fortune from their property and assets to pay a fairer share of tax.”

Two years after PM Boris Johnson claimed he had a ready-made plan to solve the social care crisis, the Tories are riven on an issue that the TUC says will be a key test of the government’s “levelling-up” mantra.

Over the weekend, vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi said he did not rule out raising taxes to fund social care but, when pressed, would say only that he would be happy to discuss the details when they are published.

Former Tory premier John Major was among those urging Mr Johnson not to take the “regressive” step of increasing national insurance but to take the “straightforward and honest” step of increasing general taxation.

National Pensioners’ Convention general secretary Jan Shortt said that whatever percentage national insurance increase the government chose would not solve the social care crisis or replace funding lost by the NHS.

Ms Shortt said: “Only radical change to a national care service funded by taxation, free at the point of need for everyone, will bring a publicly accountable service.

“Over 10 years of funding cuts to the NHS and care have left both services in crisis.”

Ms Shortt added that merely capping the cost of care — the government is reported to be considering £80,000 — would “drive even more people into the arms of equity-release companies.”

Shadow foreign secretary Lisa Nandy told Sky TV that Labour supported the TUC’s “broad principle” of increasing taxes for the wealthy to pay for NHS and social care recovery.

She said that the PM’s plan to break his 2019 manifesto pledge and increase national insurance would “load the entirety of the cost of social care on to supermarket workers, delivery drivers who are already suffering with high childcare costs, high housing costs and who kept us going through the pandemic.”

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