NHS to receive extra £5.5bn to help Covid recovery, says government source

An extra £5.5bn of public money will be allocated to the NHS to help it this winter and tackle the backlog caused by the Covid pandemic, a senior government source has told the BBC.

The detail of the funding is expected to be confirmed on Monday.

A longer-term funding deal to help pay for social care in England after April has not yet been finalised although it is said to be “close”.

The government had been expected to unveil those details this week.

Organisations representing the NHS have warned services may have to be cut unless NHS England receives an extra £10bn in funding next year.

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“National Insurance is paid by workers until they reach the state pension age.
For someone on average earnings of £29,536 a year, a 1% increase in National Insurance
would cost them £199.68 annually.”

The prime minister is facing pressure from his own MPs not to increase National Insurance (NI) to pay for social care – an idea that is being considered.

One cabinet minister, who is against the rise, told the BBC that “it is the wrong thing to do, and the wrong way to go about it” after the Tories promised not to increase taxes in their election manifesto of 2019.

BBC political editor Laura Kuenssberg said it “sounded like haggling was still going on” over social care funding.

And she said a delay in reaching an agreement has “created plenty of space for a backlash before the details have even emerged”.

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Many Conservative MPs are against tax rises to fund reforms, and ex-Conservative Chancellor Lord Philip Hammond told Times Radio increasing National Insurance could provoke a “very significant backlash”.

Government sources said meetings have been going on throughout the weekend.

It is widely accepted that major changes are needed to the social care system, which helps older and disabled people with day-to-day tasks such as washing, dressing, eating and medication.

The current system is under pressure after past governments failed to fund it properly or bring in reforms. But bringing in a shake-up would cost billions of pounds.

Earlier this week, the government did not deny newspaper reports that it was considering increasing National Insurance contributions by at least 1% to improve social care and tackle the NHS backlog.

National Insurance is paid by workers until they reach the state pension age. For someone on average earnings of £29,536 a year, a 1% increase in National Insurance would cost them £199.68 annually. Employers also pay NI.

Some Tories accept that a tax rise is needed – but say it should not be National Insurance because that could hit younger and lower income workers harder, while pensioners would not have to pay.

During the last election, the Conservatives made a manifesto commitment not to raise National Insurance, income tax or VAT.

Labour has also voiced its opposition to an increase to National Insurance, with shadow foreign secretary Lisa Nandy arguing that the “burden of the social care crisis” shouldn’t fall on “supermarket workers and delivery drivers”.

The social care system is devolved across the four nations, meaning governments need to develop solutions unique to their own region.

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