The prime minister’s plan to seize control of the NHS has sparked fears of privatisation among opponents, while his core support has been rocked by revelations of a double whammy mansion tax and raid on private pensions.
Boris Johnson’s “shock plans to impose a ‘mansion tax’ on owners of expensive homes” will “infuriate” Tory grassroots and “stun MPs”, says the Telegraph who reveal the PM and Chancellor Sajid Javid are also looking at making “severe cuts to pension tax relief enjoyed by millions of voters”.
Opponents of the PM are equally concerned about Johnson’s “new legislation to impose ministerial control over the NHS” which, the Independent states, could see ministers use their new powers “to extend private-sector involvement in the NHS.”
Under legislation expected in a new bill to be introduced this year, Johnson will be able “to issue instructions to NHS England’s chief executive, Sir Simon Stevens”, who is currently “operationally independent”. The PM is concerned this status “gives Sir Simon too much freedom and prevents No 10 from stepping up the pace of reform” in the health service.
‘More levers to pull’
NHS England was established in 2013, separating it from the Department of Health and ministerial control – thereby “allowing them [ministers] to avoid direct blame for poor performance.”
The controversial shake-up introduced an internal market system to the NHS and Stevens is reported to want to develop an integrated system that can plan collectively.
Health secretary Matt Hancock is understood to have drawn up the new plans that are likely to include establishing independent “local care groups” comprising clinics and hospitals, while Johnson “is understood to want ‘more levers to pull’ as he attempts to deliver on election promises of improvements to the health service”.
Mansion tax and pension tax relief raid
Meeting his election promises is behind the prime minister and chancellor’s shock decision to consider a mansion tax and cuts to pension tax relief for next month’s budget, in, what the Telegraph calls, “an effort to pay for a huge increase in public spending.”
The Telegraph claims two sources said “ideas to raise more tax from better-off homeowners had been discussed on separate occasions in the past few weeks at the highest levels of the Treasury and No 10.”
Options for the mansion tax include a new property levy or the introduction of an additional higher council tax band. Treasury officials are reportedly keen on a “recurring” wealth tax. This will hit the south east and London hardest, but would be off-set somewhat by cuts to stamp duty.