Raising national insurance won’t fix social care crisis, three quarters of Britons say


Three quarters of Britons believe social care services will need more money than the government’s new funding policy is expected to provide, an opinion poll has found.

The government announced earlier this month that there will be a 1.25% rise in national insurance to fund health and social care. The levy is expected to raise almost £36bn over the next three years, with £5.4bn going to social care.

But according to a new study by market research company Ipsos-Mori, 74% of Britons believe it is likely that social care services will need even more funding than the policy provides over the next few years.

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Similarly, a plurality of Britons believe the money promised by the government is too little for both the NHS (42%) and social care services (42%). Around a quarter say it is the right amount (28% and 26%) while just over 1 in 10 think it too much (12% and 13%). 

The study was based on Ipsos’ interviews with a representative sample of 2,100 Britons aged 16 to 75.

It found that just over a third (35%) of respondents believe the quality of social care is likely to improve as a result of the government’s new policy. However half (49%) are more sceptical, thinking it is unlikely that the quality of social care will improve.

Opinion is also split as to whether more people will be able to access social care – 37% believe this is likely to happen over the next few years while 44% disagree. Meanwhile, 47% of respondents say it is unlikely that the new health and social care levy will reduce staff shortages.

Most Britons (55%) view the new policy as unfair for poorer people, a view held among those on high, medium and low incomes, while a similar proportion (53%) say it is fair for richer people.  

Looking ahead, there is still a lack of confidence that the desired improvements to social services will be achieved over the next few years.

Fifty-six per cent are not very/at all confident that social care services will provide an outstanding quality of care, while 55% doubt they will be fair and accessible to all who need care and support when they need it, and 54% are not confident that they will offer choice, control and independence to people with care needs. 

Support for the policy overall splits opinion – a third (31%) support it, and the same proportion are against it (33%). When prompted with the extra tax that would be paid for it, a third (34%) still support it, but 41% oppose.

Gideon Skinner, head of Political Research at Ipsos MORI, said: “The public is split in its reaction to the Government’s new levy or health and social care. Political partisanship is playing a role, but there are other factors at play – on the one hand a feeling that even more money may be needed to tackle the challenges faced by the NHS and social care, to tackle staff shortages, improve the quality of care and increase access, and on the other concerns about fairness towards the young and poorer people (concerns that are shared by older people and those on high incomes).  And the reality of the extra tax that will need to be paid is also having an effect.  

“Having said that, as many people think the Government is right to spend more on the NHS and social care (even if it means breaking a manifesto promise) as disagree, and almost four in ten do expect to see it leading to some improvements. For the Government, showing that this decision delivered improvements in the longer-term will be vital to get over short-term criticism, but the public’s concern over the NHS and social care is unlikely to go away.”

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Sarah Clarke

The author Sarah Clarke