Two-thirds of Britons would pay more income tax to fund the NHS, poll finds

The Independent, by Samuel Osborne

And nearly three-quarters don’t believe politicians are prepared to make difficult decisions about how to fund the service.

A majority of voters would pay more tax to provide a funding boost for the NHS, a new poll has found.

Two thirds – 66 per cent – of voters, including 63 per cent of Conservatives, would be willing to pay 1p more in the pound in income tax to provide a funding boost for the NHS, according to YouGov survey.

It comes amid speculation the prime minister, Theresa May, is poised to announce a major increase in health spending to mark the 70th anniversary of the establishment of the NHS.

Unconfirmed reports in several newspapers suggested Ms May could announce a cash injection of between £4bn and £6bn a year as early as Monday.

The boost would be funded by borrowing, income tax and a hoped-for “Brexit dividend” from leaving the EU, it was suggested.

Downing Street declined to comment on reports ministers were considering raising some of the cash by freezing the thresholds for the standard and higher rate of income tax from April 2020.

On Friday, a report by former health ministers Lord Darzi and Lord Prior argued the case for guaranteeing growth of around 3.5 per cent a year in health spending over the long-term to ensure the NHS is fully funded.

The YouGov survey, for the pressure group 38 Degrees, found 73 per cent of those asked did not believe politicians were prepared to make difficult decisions about how to fund the NHS.

Some 66 per cent said they would be ready to pay an additional 1 per cent in income tax to pay for the NHS.

This could raise £5.5bn a year for health, according to a report by the Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR) launched by 38 Degrees.

David Babbs, executive director for 38 Degrees, said: “The government knows the NHS needs more sustainable funding, but the last few days proves they haven’t worked out how.

“They now have a clear mandate from the British people, who are willing to pay a bit more in income tax to give our NHS the proper funding boost it needs – not a sticking plaster solution.”

He added: “A penny on income tax to pay for the NHS is supported by an overwhelming majority of the population – whether we voted Conservative or Labour, Leave or Remain. We’re all prepared to back the difficult decisions needed to safeguard the future of our National Health Service.

“The British people have spoken. The prime minister should now feel confident that she can give the NHS the sustainable funding plan it deserves.”