Keir Starmer slams 'tax on workers' ahead of latest NI raid votes

Keir Starmer lays into Boris over ‘tax on working families’ as PM braces for more Tory anger in votes on £12billion national insurance raid to bail out NHS and fund social care

  • Keir Starmer accused PM of ‘tax on working families’ with national insurance raid
  • PM braced for more Tory disquiet when health and care levy comes to Commons
  • NI increase was voted through in principle last week with just five Tory rebels 

Keir Starmer laid into Boris Johnson over his ‘tax on working families’ today as the PM braces for more Tory anger in votes on the £12billion bailout of the NHS and social care.

The Labour leader stepped up his attack on the huge national insurance hike amid anxiety among Conservatives that the policy will be a ‘gift’ in Red Wall seats.

Sir Keir’s speech at the TUC conference came ahead of the Health and Social Care Levy Bill coming to the Commons later.

The NI increase was voted through in principle last week with just five Tory MPs rebelling – although dozens opted to abstain.

But critics have been promising to make their anger at the plans felt when the legislation is rushed through all its stages this afternoon. 

The tax burden is set to reach its highest level since the Second World War as the government scrambles to raise revenue to clear backlogs after the coronavirus crisis, and finally fix the crippled social care system.  

Many Tories fear the cash injection will be simply swallowed up by the NHS without reforms, and even more funding will then be demanded.     

In a speech to the TUC, Keir Starmer stepped up his attack on the huge national insurance hike amid anxiety among Conservatives that the policy will be a ‘gift’ in Red Wall seats

Boris Johnson is bracing for more Tory anger in votes on the £12billion bailout of the NHS and social care

There is little sign of a wide-scale Tory revolt against the legislation today, with the NI increase already having been passed in principle. 

Backbencher Marcus Fysh has tabled an amendment that he said is intended to encourage insurance schemes that could cover some care costs. The PM has committed to capping lifetime care costs for every individual at £86,000. 

‘This is to enable Ministers to use it in whole or part to incentivise or part fund innovative savings or liability risk sharing schemes that can provide for the future including by way of using the power of compound interest / investment return,’ Mr Fysh tweeted.

In his speech to the TUC conference, being held virtually, Sir Keir acknowledged the ‘uncomfortable truth’ that Mr Johnson has a huge majority in Parliament. 

But he did not give any more details of how else Labour would choose to fund the £12billion-a-year package announced last week by the Government.

In an address that drew heavily on his personal experience as the son of a toolmaker, Sir Keir said his father worked from 8am to 5pm, came home for tea and then went back to work from 6pm until 10pm ‘to provide for our family’.

‘The starting point is a job to raise a family on,’ he said. ‘That means a real living wage’.

He restated Labour’s commitment to increase the minimum wage to £10 an hour.

Sir Keir added: ‘A job you can raise a family on must offer a solid foundation on which you can build your life, not worrying about how many hours you’ll be given the next week or how you’ll pay the bills if you fall ill.

‘Labour’s new deal will provide that security by ensuring basic rights for all workers from day one in the job: including holiday pay; protection from unfair dismissal; and guaranteed sick pay.

‘We have one of the lowest rates of sick pay in Europe. That’s not good enough, so as well as guaranteeing sick pay, Labour’s new deal will increase it as well.’

There were no details of the rate Sir Keir would like to see sick pay increase to, with Labour saying the party would ‘consult widely’ on the appropriate level.

Backbencher Marcus Fysh has tabled an amendment that he said is intended to encourage insurance schemes that could cover some care costs

Labour would ban zero hours contracts and increase access to parental leave.

It would also outlaw ‘fire and hire’ – the practice of sacking employees and then taking them back on worse terms.

Labour morale has been boosted by a YouGov poll earlier this month which showed the party with a lead over the Tories for the first time since January, but Sir Keir still faces a tricky conference with unrest on the party’s left over his direction.

Sir Keir emphasised the need for Labour to be in power in order to achieve his aims.

‘The uncomfortable truth is that until we have a Labour government, our demands for change will be frustrated,’ he said.

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