National Insurance hike considered by Boris Johnson as promised social care reforms now not expected until autumn

The Government is considering breaking a manifesto promise by raising National Insurance contributions to pay for social care.

The Prime Minister is yet to get a deal confirmed but is understood to be close, although it is unlikely proposals will be approved this week.

A decision on the long-awaited social care reforms, promised by the Prime Minister on the steps of Downing Street as he took office two years ago, was expected before Parliament broke for summer recess this Friday.

But it is now unlikely the reforms, which Boris Johnson has previously promised will “fix the social care crisis,” will be unveiled before the autumn.

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Downing Street would not deny yesterday that National Insurance contributions could be increased to fund a new social care plan, in a move that would break a Conservative manifesto pledge.

Boris Johnson is reportedly considering plans to raise National Insurance payments by one percentage point for employers and employees to raise £10bn a year to help support the ageing population.

The Prime Minister is yet to get a deal confirmed but is understood to be close, although it is unlikely proposals will be approved this week.

Scarborough-based Mike Padgham, who chairs the Independent Care Group, said he cautiously backs the proposals.

He said: “We wait to see what is actually announced but tackling the crippling cost of social care would be a good place to start. It is wrong that people currently end up selling their home to pay for the care they need.

“We have long campaigned for better funding for social care and believe that people would be prepared to pay a little more in taxation or National Insurance, or a combination of both, in return for a properly-funded, fair social care system.

“This might not be the perfect solution to everyone, but we have to make a start and refine as we go along, rather than keep talking.”

It came as a separate report warned that benefits need to be reformed to protect the most vulnerable children after the pandemic.

Government body the Social Mobility Commission (SMC) has called for a “shake up” of child benefits, including lifting the two-child cap on Universal Credit payments.

An increase of some 700,000 children living in poverty since 2012 means the Government should “dig deep” to increase benefits, the Commission said, pointing out that the furlough scheme was an example of where decisive action had previously been taken.

Universal Credit should be increased by £10 per child per week, the report recommended.

The Department for Work and Pensions said yesterday that Universal Credit payments had supported “millions” of people” throughout the pandemic.

But it would not confirm if the Social Mobility Commission’s recommendation to overhaul child benefits would be considered.

A spokesperson said: “This government is focused on levelling up opportunity so that no young person is left behind.

“That’s why we are providing the biggest uplift to school funding in a decade, investing in early years education and targeting our ambitious recovery funding to support disadvantaged pupils with their attainment.”