Health Secretary Sajid Javid rules out delay to National Insurance tax hike

By Luke Andrews Health Reporter For Mailonline Published: 19:31 GMT, 25 January 2022 | Updated: 19:44 GMT, 25 January 2022 Health Secretary Sajid Javid tonight ruled out any delay to the April tax gra

Health Secretary Sajid Javid rules out delay to National Insurance tax hike

Health Secretary Sajid Javid RULES OUT a delay to April's National Insurance tax hike... and hints that rules making Covid jabs compulsory for NHS staff could still be scrapped

  • Sajid Javid has said the £12billion tax levy for the NHS remains 'secured'
  • He added that the hike was important to help tackle the record patient backlog
  • It comes amid growing calls from Tory backbenchers for it to be scrapped

Health Secretary Sajid Javid tonight ruled out any delay to the April tax grab for the NHS, despite growing calls to delay the controversial rise.  

Mr Javid insisted the national insurance hike — which will strip the average family of £600 a year — was not 'under threat'. 

He re-iterated his support for the increase, which will bring in an extra £12billion for the NHS and social care. 

Mr Javid told the Commons' Health and Social Care Committee the extra funds were 'important' to help hospitals clear waiting lists, which have spiralled to record highs because of Covid. 

The Government is being urged to rethink the proposed 1.25 per cent rise, which is due in April when households face a perfect storm of rising energy bills, council tax and inflation.

A string of senior Tory MPs, business leaders and economists want Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s plan scrapped. 

Yesterday, former Brexit chief Lord Frost weighed into the argument, claiming that the Government should abandon the plan because it was 'not needed'. 

Health Secretary Sajid Javid (pictured today speaking at the Commons' Health and Social Care Committee) said the April tax hike was 'secure'

Health Secretary Sajid Javid (pictured today speaking at the Commons' Health and Social Care Committee) said the April tax hike was 'secure'

Data released by NHS England shows a record 5.98million people were waiting for routine surgery in October, up from 5.83million the month before

Data released by NHS England shows a record 5.98million people were waiting for routine surgery in October, up from 5.83million the month before

Compulsory Covid jab rules for NHS staff should be kept 'under review', Sajid Javid says

Compulsory Covid vaccination rules for NHS staff is being kept 'under review', Sajid Javid said today.

Speaking to Parliament's Health and Social Care Committee, the Health Secretary said jabs were made a requirement of employment for patient safety.

But this decision was taken when Delta was the dominant mutant strain, rather than Omicron as is currently the case.

Mr Javid said people had 'made representations' to him about Omicron changing the game.

He said: 'I think it is right in light of Omicron that we reflect on all this and keep all Covid policies properly sort of under review.

'Because Omicron is different to Delta. Equally, we don't know what the next variant is going to be. We talked a bit about that earlier. But we are reflecting on all this.'

All NHS staff are required to have received two doses of the Covid vaccine by April 1, meaning they must have a first dose by February 3 or face losing their jobs.

A total of 77,000 employees are still yet to get their jab, equivalent to six per cent of the workforce.

There are growing calls for the deadline to be delayed, including from the Royal College of GPs.

But the Department of Health has said there are 'no plans' to push back the deadline, and that getting the jab was 'the right thing to do to protect patients'.

At the committee hearing today, chair and former Tory party leader hopeful Jeremy Hunt asked Mr Javid whether he still supported the tax rise.

He responded saying: 'Yes, I do. 

'It's very important we make sure we've got the long term funding in place for the NHS and for social care. The levy is about that long-term funding.'

He was also asked whether the tax hike in April was 'under threat'. But the Health Secretary dismissed the possibility, and said the extra cash was 'secure'.

The national insurance increase, which was announced last autumn, will raise £12billion to £13billion a year for the Treasury.

It was intended to help fund health and social care, but most of the money for the first three years will go toward clearing the post-Covid NHS backlog.

The national insurance rise will cost a worker on a £30,000 salary around £255 over a year – and £505 for anyone earning £50,000. 

There is growing opposition to the levy on Tory backbenches, with the Prime Minister's former Brexit chief saying the tax grab was not needed.

The peer, who resigned last year amid concern over the direction of Mr Johnson's administration, said scrapping the increase was vital in the face of the cost of living crisis.

'The tax rises this April were never necessary or justified,' Lord Frost added. 

'Given the new pressures on energy prices and inflation, it's even more important now to scrap these tax increases and focus on getting the economy growing again. Allowing people to keep more of their own money is always the best way.' 

During his committee appearance, Mr Javid also set out the Government's plans for 'living with' the virus.

He said vaccines, treatments such as antivirals and testing would be 'top of the list' in this spring plan.

'We've got to find a way to live with it (Covid) in the same way, let's say, we live with flu,' he said.

'I'm not for a second sort of saying it's like flu, you know, look at sadly all the deaths we've had from Covid — over 150,000 from the start.

'It's about understanding we do now have defences which we didn't have before and just as sort of flu doesn't stop society and stop life, we mustn't let Covid do that anymore.'

Mr Javid said it was important GPs returned to normal, after millions of patients struggled to get appointments during the pandemic.

Vital health checks for vulnerable and elderly patients have been suspended until April to give GPs more time to deliver the ramped-up booster programme.

Mr Javid said: 'What we can't have is asking GPs to stop doing their regular work, that can be an emergency response now.

'In future we've got we've got to have a National Vaccination Service that is able to deal with Covid vaccines, as well as other vaccines, without drawing in workforce from the rest of the NHS.' 

And Mr Javid also revealed the compulsory Covid vaccination rules for NHS staff are being kept 'under review'.

He said jabs were made a requirement of employment for patient safety. But this decision was taken when Delta was the dominant mutant strain, rather than Omicron as is currently the case.

Mr Javid said people had 'made representations' to him about Omicron changing the game.

He said: 'I think it is right in light of Omicron that we reflect on all this and keep all Covid policies properly sort of under review.

'Because Omicron is different to Delta. Equally, we don't know what the next variant is going to be. We talked a bit about that earlier. But we are reflecting on all this.'

National Vaccination Service will be set up under a new Government strategy so Britain can 'learn to live with Covid' 

A National Vaccination Service will be set up under a new Government strategy so Britain can 'learn to live with Covid'.

Health Secretary Sajid Javid said the new vaccine workforce will free up GPs to see more patients face-to-face and clear the enormous backlog of non-Covid care.

Mr Javid told MPs on the Health Select Committee the Government will be setting out a plan by spring on how to 'live with Covid' through vaccines, treatments and testing.

He added: 'We've got to find a way to live with Covid in the same way we live with flu…Just as flu doesn't stop society and stop life, we must not let Covid do that anymore.'

Mr Javid said it was important GPs returned to normal, after millions of patients struggled to get appointments during the pandemic.

Vital health checks for vulnerable and elderly patients have been suspended until April to give GPs more time to deliver the ramped-up booster programme.

Mr Javid said: 'What we can't have is asking GPs to stop doing their regular work, that can be an emergency response now.

'In future we've got we've got to have a National Vaccination Service that is able to deal with Covid vaccines, as well as other vaccines, without drawing in workforce from the rest of the NHS.'

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