Sir, Daniel Finkelstein invites alternative suggestions to a “hypothecated tax” to pay for increased spending on the NHS (“It’s time for a separate tax to fund the NHS”, Mar 8). The alternative I have proposed would build on the distinction the public makes between tax and contributions. Recent polling found that while 42 per cent of voters would support an increase in tax to pay for a larger NHS budget, this figure climbed to 53 per cent once voters were asked about an increase in national insurance contributions.
Public support for this reform would be cemented if the contributory base was made more progressive. Likewise the inclusion of pensioners’ incomes would make it a serious runner for the longer term.
A national mutual that consulted the electorate regularly on the costs of health, and the level of contributions required to meet those costs, accompanied by a continuing efficiency programme, could see the NHS through the next generation.
Frank Field MP
House of Commons
London, SW1A 0AA