Cut public spending before any more tax rises, demands Sajid Javid

Sajid Javid said on Sunday there should be no new tax rises before the next election after a grassroots backlash over last week’s tax raid.

The Health Secretary said that cuts to public spending should be considered before any new tax increases if more money had to be found in the coming years.

The move will be seen as a shot across the bows of Number 10 after Boris Johnson pushed through a manifesto-breaking National Insurance rise despite Cabinet disquiet.

The Telegraph has learned that backbench Conservative MPs still fuming at the Government’s decision will launch a fresh attempt this week to change the policy.

Marcus Fysh, the Tory MP for Yeovil, who is critical of the way the NHS and social care package was funded, wants people who get insurance for social care to get a “rebate” from the new tax.

He is tabling an amendment to the tax increase law to push the idea and is due to discuss it directly with Rishi Sunak, the Chancellor, in a meeting on Monday.

Meanwhile, Conservative MPs returning from their constituencies this weekend are sharing anecdotes of Tory voters decrying Mr Johnson’s move last week.

One said a long-time Tory-voting constituent asked them “what are you going to do about our Prime Minister”, while another voter expressed fears the tax increase would drive support to Labour.

The murmurings of discontent come after Mr Johnson broke two manifesto promises as he pumped £36 billion into the NHS and a new system capping lifetime social care costs.

The Prime Minister increased National Insurance by 1.25 percentage points to fund the move and also denied retirees a state pension rise in line with average earnings.

Conservative low tax pledges

At a press conference last week, he declined three times to rule out any more tax increases before the next general election, which is due in May 2024.

But during an interview on Sky News, Mr Javid made clear his opposition to any further tax increases this Parliament when asked if he would promise to stand against such a move.

“If we have to spend more somewhere else, I think that we should always be trying first to see where we can make savings to pay for that, not extra tax rises,” Mr Javid said.

“Tax rates should always be the last resort. It’s been right to do it on this occasion, but we should always try to avoid it.”

In a separate interview on Times Radio, Mr Javid appeared to call for the Government to consider new tax cuts and called for the overall tax burden – heading for a 70-year high – to fall.

Tax will hit historic high

“Of course, I want to see that come down over time and there’s a number of ways to try to do that,” he said.

“One way is obviously in the future to see what taxes you might be able to cut and that’s going to be a decision for the future for the Chancellor.”

Mr Javid was made Mr Johnson’s first chancellor but quit in February 2020 over a row about advisers. He returned to the Government as Health Secretary in June.

The Prime Minister’s tax rise sailed through Parliament last week, with only five Tory MPs voting against it and a few dozen more abstaining on the vote.

But that is not the end of the Tory rebellion, with the legislation for the tax rise back in the House of Commons on Tuesday and frustration building among some rebels.

Mr Fysh said he would propose an amendment calling for people who take out insurance to pay for social care to be given a rebate on the tax increase.

A private insurance system is often seen as more in line with traditional conservative free-market principles than government spending funding a nationwide tax rise.

Mr Johnson predicted insurance deals would emerge in the coming years after the Government capped lifetime social care costs at £86,000.

Mr Fysh told The Telegraph: “I would like Rishi to commit to in the future setting up such social care insurance schemes or supporting such schemes.

“Those that use such schemes can get a rebate from this levy. That would incentivise people to arrange provision for their old age.”

Mr Fysh said he supported the need to reform the social care system and to help those hardest hit by costs, but argued his change would limit the financial burden of the tax.

NI tax calculator

It is unclear how many Tory MPs could back the move or other amendments tabled by rebels. But there are indications Downing Street is nervous.

On Sunday night, the Prime Minister called in his chief whip, Mark Spencer, for face-to-face talks in Number 10 about Tuesday’s votes – a sign that at least some concern exists.

Separately, Mr Javid criticised a blog that appeared on an NHS website entitled “dear white people in the UK”, which drew attention to the issue of white privilege.

Mr Javd said: There’s no place for that kind of talk I think at the NHS. I just want people, especially clinicians, just to be absolutely focused on what they do brilliantly, which is looking after people.”

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