Christine Jardine: Government breaking promises and backbone of our economy

Christine Jardine slammed the Government’s proposed increase in National Insurance constributions in the debate yesterday.

The full text of her speech is below:

Like, I am sure, many people on both sides of the House, I came here today desperate to support a plan that would see investment in a system that has been set up to provide care not just for us and all our loved ones but for everyone in this country. This is a problem that we all want to see fixed for the 1.5 million people who are not receiving the care they deserve; for the staff who work long hours, underpaid, with 120,000 jobs left unfilled; for the unpaid carers; for those caught in the backlog of NHS waiting lists that threatens every day to deny them life-saving treatment in time; and for all of us who might one day need the system that we were brought up to believe was there from cradle to grave. It is therefore a huge disappointment that this so-called plan does not do any of that.

What we have is not a strategy that will fix our NHS and social care—the long-awaited oven-ready plan that the Prime Minister promised us on the steps of Downing Street. Perhaps it would now be more appropriate to talk about the naughty step and to consider what this so-called plan will mean for the young people, the lowest-paid and the small businesses that will be hit hardest, because this is a tax hike for the low-paid and young people, which the Government promised there would not be.Toggle showing location ofColumn 378

Where is the carefully costed, detailed plan of what will be spent on the NHS backlog and invested in our social care system? One must not be funded at the cost of the other. There is a better way to deliver for a social care system that was already in crisis before the pandemic—and that is not an excuse for the broken manifesto promises of 2019. This is a system that was already in crisis and already in need of investment.

Liberal Democrats have repeatedly called on the Government to hold cross-party talks to find some consensus on the best plan to fix social care. The Government have had plenty of time. We know that it can be done. When the Liberal Democrats were in government, we built a cross-party agreement through the Dilnot commission, as mentioned by the right hon. Member for Gainsborough (Sir Edward Leigh), and the Care Act 2014, based on the values of the NHS. We legislated for it, but after the 2015 election, the Conservatives ripped it up. Instead, they are now pressing ahead with a scheme that places a huge burden on low earners and small businesses. Has it completely escaped their notice that many of those who will be hit hardest by this tax hike are the frontline NHS and social care workers?

Then there are the other public sector workers—police and fire officers. As for business, this comes at the worst possible time. When, as the Federation of Small Businesses points out, firms are still struggling, trying to recover from the impact of the pandemic, what do the Government do? They end support, stop furlough and then hit them with another bill, while many of them are struggling to get out from under the debt that the pandemic has created. Added to that, so many families are now facing a cut in universal credit.

It is abundantly clear to me and to the Liberal Democrats that this Government, this Prime Minister and this Chancellor are out of touch with ordinary families, small businesses, frontline health and care staff and what they face on a daily basis. As I have said, the pandemic is no excuse for breaking promises. This is a moment in our history when the people in this country most need a Government on whom they can depend and who are as good as their word.

What about the people whom this so-called plan is supposed to help? Where is the respect, beyond that for a certain proportion of the population? We will all start paying for this new arrangement in April 2022, but it will not come into effect until October 2023. What about the people who are in care now or who will enter care in the intervening 18 months? As for the cap, £86,000 is still a lot of money. This country deserves better.

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10 Comments

  • Russell Simpson 15th Sep '21 - 4:13pm

    The promise to not put up tax was given pre covid. Using NI may be cynical but the public wouldn’t have stood for a 2% rise in income tax. The care portion of the extra revenue was never going to do more than implement the cap. Don’t forget that when May suggested something without a cap her plan was labelled a dementia tax. A bit like Brexit, maybe we should have tried working with May harder?

  • Brad Barrows 15th Sep '21 - 5:32pm

    “This country deserves better.”
    I assume the ‘this country’ she is referring to is England – a strange way for a Scottish MP to refer to England when addressing the parliament of the United Kingdom.

  • I doubt the cap of £86k will make much difference to the issue of catastrophic costs for those with debilitating illnesses like Parkinson’s or advanced dementia that cannot be treated in a domiciliary care environment.
    It is the residential care and nursing home fees that typically force the sale of family homes to pay for care rather than day care fees that are often met from pension income and attendance allowances. These ‘hotel costs’ are excluded from the cap and so will continue to eat up equity in homes as before.

  • Brad – THAT’S the key issue you took from that speech? (And given some of the money raised from the NI increase will be shared with the devolved nations. And that we in Wales and Scotland will be paying more NI…)

  • Brad Barrows 15th Sep '21 - 8:19pm

    Hi Cassie
    Considering that I live in Scotland and the announcement was about health and social care in England, it was one of the issues I took from the speech. I also object to the UK government increasing the National Insurance I have to pay so that it can have more money to spend on health and social care in England though I didn’t expect her to make that point. Yes, the Scottish government will get a proportional increase in money to spend due to Barnett Consequentials from the extra government spending in England, but I object to the fact that the UK government plans to instruct that this extra money has to be spent on health and social care. This is yet another encroachment on the devolution settlement with the UK government increasingly interfering in devolved areas. Christine Jardine could have made that point but chose to ignore it.

  • Living in Wales, I get all that. My point was that there were some big issues addressed in the speech, and to pick her up on a turn of phrase (only) came over as quibbling.

  • @Cassie, I think it fair to say that if Boris or any other Tory had made the same contextual mistake, they would have been rapidly taken down by either Ian Black Ford and co or Elizabeth Saviille and co, regardless of the subject under discussion. Sauce for the goose…..

  • Russell Simpson 15th Sep ’21 – 4:13pm…………..The promise to not put up tax was given pre covid. Using NI may be cynical but the public wouldn’t have stood for a 2% rise in income tax…………….

    What you should have written is that Johnson’s back benchers would not have stood for any tax increase in the upper tax bands…
    However, these same MPs are comfortable with children going hungry in school holidays, vast sums wasted on ‘crony deals’ over Covid, whole families driven into penury with the withdrawal of the £20, etc.

    “I’m all right Jack!” doesn’t come close..

  • I happen to agree with Ms Jardine on this, but sadly these days, her point would have had more resonance if all politicians, including Lib Dems, had a better record of keeping promises.

    I recall on 8 April, 2010 Liberal Democrats chose to unveil a poster campaign warning of ‘bombshell’ VAT rises under the Tories…… and yet, ten weeks later, on 22 June 2010, with Lib Dems in government with said Tories it was announced the standard rate of VAT would rise from 17.5% to 20% from 4 January 2011. It was only a year or two after Charles Kennedy advocated putting a penny on income tax for education that I was asked to deliver Lib Dem leaflets in a byelection which advocating reducing income tax by a penny. It’s the politics of Hokey Cokey :

    You put your left arm in
    Your left arm out
    In, out, in, out
    You shake it all about
    You do the hokey cokey
    And you turn around
    That’s what it’s all about.

    My view now, after over fifty years as an active foot slogging Lib Dem, with a Westminster Government full of such amazing talent as the ever trustworthy Johnson, the Cultured Ms Dorries and British Cheese Advocate (& ex Lib Dem) Truss as Foreign Secretary, is to take all political rhetoric from all sources with a large pinch of salt.

    Sadly, Westminster politics for the most part these days is a branch of the ‘Entertainment’ industry…… except it’s not very entertaining as the people on Universal Credit (part introduced by Lib Dems) will tell you.

  • Peter Martin 17th Sep '21 - 4:02pm

    “…because this is a tax hike for the low-paid and young people, which the Government promised there would not be.”

    True!

    “…and that (the Pandemic) is not an excuse for the broken manifesto promises of 2019.”

    Oh I don’t know. It’s a better one that some previous excuses for broken Promises! Like on you-know-what!

    “As for the cap, £86,000 is still a lot of money. This country deserves better…..”

    Better in what way? Are you arguing for a lower cap and more tax rises, a somewhat higher cap and lower tax rises, or the same system as we have now and no tax rises?

    @ Russell,

    “the public wouldn’t have stood for a 2% rise in income tax.”

    NI is just another income tax, and an even more regressive one at that. Period. NI contributions aren’t collected and stored away in some account to be dished out when needed. NI insurance money is treated the same as any other Govt receipt.

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