Opinion: ‘Fair taxation for all across society’

Councillor Shaz Nawaz, Labour Group leader on Peterborough City Council, writes...

By The Newsroom
Sunday, 19th September 2021, 3:15 pm

Labour has long argued that the NHS and social care should be properly funded.

The pandemic has proven how vital the NHS is to preserve public health; the outpouring of public affection for our health workers, nurses and doctors over the past 18 months has been unforgettable.

Additionally, our society is ageing. It is important 
social care is there to help look after those who worked hard and contributed to the system throughout their lives.

We can all agree that proper funding is vital, necessary, and the moral thing to do. But deciding how we pay for it is just as important.

The Conservatives pledged that there would be no rises in National Insurance contributions to pay for social care. They were either foolhardy or deceitful. Neither scenario is particularly to their credit.

Moving the goalposts on what was promised is altogether too typical of this administration; worse, it contributes to a corrosive narrative that no politician or political party can be trusted to carry out their pledges.

Furthermore, there is a principle that should be applied to all taxation: “Those with the broadest shoulders should carry the heaviest burden”. The Conservatives’ latest moves are deeply regressive.

The individual working for minimum wage will pay more; they can ill-afford this, particularly given how prices for rent, food, and energy are all rising.

In contrast, those who sit on inherited wealth will be unaffected. Surely, we should be adopting policies which reward work; however, our tax system is so opaque and mired with complications that it is far easier for the government to impose a regressive measure like this. If we know anything about this government, it is that they will take the path of least resistance. Additionally, taxing the already well off, perhaps even a few multinational corporations would likely lead to some of the Conservatives’ core constituencies being upset with them.

Unfortunately, the increase passed the Commons, so it will come into effect shortly. Some Conservative MPs abstained. I cannot laud their courage, but at the same time, I suppose they deserve some faint praise because they recognised that this is an appalling breach of trust.

If we want to fund social care and the NHS properly and fairly, we will need to think again. It is absurd that multinational corporations can earn billions and pay little tax on it. It’s ridiculous that our system seems more inclined to preserve the wealth of those who have it and penalise those who are working to achieve it. It is those who work that make our economy function; toil is the route to progress.

Why would we want to heap another burden on those who are struggling as it is?

I suspect that the immediate impact of these changes will be met with grudging acceptance. After all, we should ensure the NHS is kept as intact as possible after the ravages of the coronavirus. However, as the costs mount, and take-home pay is squeezed, we will need to revisit taxation. Labour is committed to doing this at the earliest opportunity.