Lib Dems to consider NHS tax #ldconf

The Liberal Democrats are to set up an independent expert panel to consider the case for a dedicated NHS and care tax,  Norman Lamb will announce in his Conference speech at Brighton later today.

Members of the ‘New Beveridge Group’ will include Dr. Clare Gerada, former President of the Royal College of GPs, Prof. Dinesh Bhugra, former President of the Royal College of Psychiatrists and current President of the World Psychiatric Association, Peter Carter, the former General Secretary of the Royal College of Nursing, and the chief executive of the Patients’ Association, Katherine Murphy.

It will report its recommendations to the party in six months’ time, presumably in time for Spring Conference.

Speaking to party members in Brighton, Lib Dem Health spokesperson Norman Lamb will say:

That great Liberal, William Beveridge, first proposed the NHS. But the needs of today are so different. It is time for a new Beveridge for the 21st century. A new long term settlement for the NHS and care. 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.

We should surely aspire to have a modern, efficient, dynamic NHS and care system which treats mental and physical health equally; which ensures that elderly people and those with disability get kind, generous support which helps to prevent ill health and prevents a deterioration of condition; a health system which delivers the best outcomes for patients.

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.

Be in no doubt: the funding crisis is real and overwhelming.

We must be honest with the British people. If we conclude that we all need to pay perhaps an extra penny in the pound then we must be prepared to say it.

Today, I am announcing that we will establish an independent expert panel to advise the party on the case for this reform.

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.

The Scottish Liberal Democrats fought the Holyrood elections earlier this year proposing putting a penny on income tax for education. This came out of a Conference motion which asked for it to be considered for the NHS.
Talking about more tax is never a particularly easy thing to do, but it’s a debate we urgently need to take seriously.