I think this may not be true

Two in three people are prepared to pay more tax in order to ensure the cash-strapped NHS has the money it needs to provide good care.

New polling for the King’s Fund thinktank found that two-thirds (66%) of the public are willing “to pay more taxes in order to maintain the level of spending needed” on the health service.

Only one in five (20%) would endorse cuts in spending on other services such as welfare and education so that the NHS could receive a boost to its budget. Even fewer – 10% – believe that the health service should reduce either its level of care or range of services to balance its books.

Hmm. What is it the Sage of Ely tells us? That there’s a £120 billion tax gap? Tax which should be paid but is not?

That doesn’t, to me, indicate a great willingness to pay higher taxes.

26 thoughts on “I think this may not be true”

  1. We see these surveys all the time, yet people don’t tend to vote for high tax parties. What this survey really says is two thirds of people want other people to pay more tax.

  2. Rob, exactly. You can test the willingness for people to pay more tax for the NHS by the number of people who reach into their pockets every time they use it and hand them over some cash. I think that currently stands at zero times this has happened.

  3. “Two in three people are prepared to pay more tax in order to ensure the cash-strapped NHS has the money it needs to provide good care.”

    Bollocks. Get the monkeys on the street/phone asking this question to ask for a credit card number. Ask every family in the country for £1000 to increase the NHS budget by 20%. Will you get it? No fucking way.

  4. Unless it’s quantified, it’s useless.
    Unless you know what the extra tax will buy you, it is useless.

    More people would pay 10p extra tax in order to fund the NHS than would pay 10k extra in tax to fund the NHS.

    Few people would pay more tax if it was paying for higher salaries for NHS apparatchiks rather than for actual treating-the-sick.

  5. Why hasn’t some NGO begun a campaign to collect voluntary contributions then mail the check to the treasury stipulating it is spent on the NHS etc?

    I mean that is actually possible, why hasn’t someone done it?

  6. It’s hard enough getting parents to pay for school catering at the cash strapped schools their kids are taught at and fed. Why anyone believes this ‘expressed preference’ is beyond me. Perhaps they haven’t met reality?

  7. Knowing Me, Knowing Steve

    Does anyone remember the NHS not being “cash-strapped”? Did they ever stop complaining, even when Gordon Brown was hosing them with money,?

  8. I’m prepared to believe that they SAY they would pay more tax, but as Bill notes, once you discount the 50% who pay nothing, then that 2/3 rapidly reveals itself as a willingness for other people to pay tax (Vide Rob & others).

    The answer to this is to operate the voluntary taxation scheme with money hypothecated.

    I’m quite willing to pay more tax for things that are sensible, provided I can pay less for things that aren’t.

  9. I’d like to see two rather more specific questions:

    Would you pay an extra 2p in the pound income tax if it all went to the NHS? Bear in mind this will be a nationwide, voluntary scheme.

    Would you like to see £10bn of the overseas aid budget cut in favour of the NHS?

    I think we would get some more useful answers.

  10. Also the government should have a voluntary tax overpayment scheme, where companies and individuals can pay as much extra as they like and even specify where it goes (broadly).

    We could even have prizes:

    Greatest personal tax overpayment
    Greatest corporation tax overpayment
    Greatest contribution (as a % of total income)

    I’m sure Guardian hacks, tax experts and the like would be falling over themselves to get a chance to be seen doing the right thing.

  11. Aha… the excuse merry-go-round.

    Cash-strapped.
    Understaffed.
    Too many administrators.
    Doctors and nurses not in charge of spending.
    Cash-strapped.
    Understaffed, etc.
    ………………….. Da capo al fine.

    *Can be levened with: cost of obesity/alcohol/smoking/drug-taking crisis, Tories… as the time and fashion determines.

    NHS is a Stalin-era monopoly State Collective.

    Whilst it remains so it will never change… it has not in over 70 years, despite almost annual ‘reforms’ and ever increasing amounts of money thrown at it.

  12. Didnt Tim post a link to the annual ‘voluntary contributions to the HMRC’ story in the Tele a couple of weeks ago?

    45 people paid a donation to the HMRC in the last year.

    Think that’s better data than some bilgewater poll.

  13. “Would you like to pay more tax so that othes can receive a greater benefit””

    “Would you like others to pay more tax so that you can receive a greater benefit”

    I’d like a sensible redistribution system (that strongly motivates) so that no one of our “group” (nation?) is forced to live in poverty (including some fair position wrt catastrophic health). Then I’d like to choose how I spend / allocate my own resources. And I’d like everyone else to be able to do the same.

  14. I commented on this article a few times. One counter I am puzzled with is that “poor people pay a greater portion of their income in tax than rich people”

    So my *average* rate of income tax is 35-38% or there is employers NI that is paid out of my gross as is NI. From my residual I buy zero rated stuff like food and heating. Everything else is at a VaT rate of 20% with exceptions like airline tickets. Total tax proportion is always North of 40% without exception.

    If poor people pay no income tax then even if the buy no food or heating and blow their money on Vatable goods then they must pay less tax than me without exception. And that is before we take into account benefits and tax credits of which I receive precisely zero now they took child benefit away.

    The only change from this will be if they spend tons on alcohol and fags. Given these are discretionary spend items I can’t see why they should be counted. Am I wrong somewhere?

    And these are the people who the Guardian readers think are heros and should receive more benefits and that more tax should be paid

  15. @Andrew again.

    I’ve always been baffled by this claim too.

    Does it include council tax – which poorer people don’t actually pay?

    Does it assume wealthy people buy nothing VATable?

    Anyone know the figures behind these nonsensical claims?

  16. Dunno why the government don’t call the bluff of these people like Norway did.

    If you want to donate extra tax, above that lawfully due, you can. It is all ear-marked for the NHS. You can even get a badge or car sticker so everyone can see just how many people are paying extra tax to help the NHS.

    Why the Tories don’t do this I have no idea. Except that they are monumentally shit at being a proper Conservative party.

  17. @Andrew again
    The tables I looked at were comparing tax to income, so by the very method of constructing the charts it will be look like the poor are paying the biggest %.
    In 2015 I was out of work for 6 months – if I’d been included in the survey, my tax rate would have been around 1000% at the time due to a tiny income from odd jobs and savings interest, and a lot of VAT paid buying a bike, booze and council tax.
    Substitute savings for loans and help from friends depending on the type of poor.

  18. There’s also the fact that most people will assume that an ‘improved NHS’ will benefit them personally, or at least someone they know personally, close family member, that sort of thing. So ‘paying a bit more tax’, even if it were a real commitment from people is underpinned by their assumption they’ll get more out of the NHS as a result. So 2p extra income tax would cost the average person what, £300 for an income of £25k? Or £6/week? Doesn’t sound too bad, IF you think that means you’ll get a doctors appointment when you want one, A&E won’t have a 5 hour wait, and your Gran gets her hip op when she needs it, not 3 years time.

    If on the other hand it means that you still can’t get an appointment at the GP, A&E is a 4 hour wait, and Grans hip op is shifted a few months closer, but is still years away, while the NHS employees get a fat pay rise, then you won’t get the same sort of response at all.

  19. I did my tax return last month, so some cold hard figures (rounded slightly)
    Income: £10,000, so income tax: £0
    National Insurance: £300
    Leaving £9,700 spending money. Of which £800 council tax, 20% of £5000 VATable items, 75% of £2000 fuel duty/VAT.
    So about £3300 in taxes, so about 33% of my income going on taxes.

    Ten years ago I was on £16,000, so income tax £2375, National Insurance £1920.
    Leaving £11,700 spending money Of which £600 council tax, 20% of £5000 VATable items, no car.
    So about £5300 in taxes, so again about 33% of my income.

  20. I think the real point of the Lefty Tax Gap is how much people want to believe it. For it tells us they want desparately to believe that there is tax gold to be mined, that all the free stuff we want can be obtained, but – quite crucially – it currently sits with someone else and will never come out of their own pocket.

  21. That’s really what it boils down to. It’s monumentally difficult to persuade people that the better-off are already being taxed at pretty much the upper limit of what is either practical or moral.

  22. @ Andrew Again
    The bottom decile includes some people with low earnings and some students with no income, living on loans, and some self-employed people with negative income. If you add all these together, their aggreagate income will be substantially less than the subset being those earning low incomes. Divide tax paid by the earners, students and loss-makers by less that the income of the earners and you get a relatively high nonsense figure to be trumpeted by Labour and their journalist shills.
    In fact the original claim was “tax paid” not “income tax paid” since the borrom decile pays no income tax but it spends more than 110% of its aggregate income on VATtable goods (implying that it spends less than nothing on food, rent, public transport, text books, newspapers, etc).

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