Majority of voters back tax hike to support ailing NHS
A majority of voters now back a tax rise to support the NHS after a big boost in support among Conservatives, according to a major new survey.
Some 61% of adults told the British Social Attitudes survey they were willing to pay more to save the struggling health service - up from 49% in 2016 and 41% in 2014, the Times reports.
The swing is fuelled by a rise in support among Conservative voters. Some 56% said they would be happy with an NHS-ringfenced tax hike, up 13 percentage points since last year and 23 since 2014.
Just last month Theresa May vowed to set out a long-term strategy for the health service and dropped a big hint its funding could be planned on a 10-year basis.
Chris Ham, boss of the King’s Fund health thinktank, said of the survey results: “If I was sitting in Whitehall I would sit up and take notice.
“I have not seen anything as dramatic as this over such a time period. It’s a wake-up call for ministers to follow through on Theresa May’s commitment.”
The survey revealed widespread dissatisfaction with the state of the NHS. Almost three times as many people said it had got worse in the past five years than said it had improved.
Of those who are willing to pay more, some 35% said they would back a “separate tax that would go directly to the NHS,” while 25% said a hike in national insurance would be fine.
It is estimated that the health service will face a funding gap of some £20bn by the end of the current parliament.
Last month Mrs May told MPs it was time to get away from “annual top-ups” and forge a “sustainable long-term plan”.
And she dropped a major hint that there would be a big cash boost for the NHS within the year, to coincide with its 70th birthday.