POLITICS
28/09/2018 00:01 BST

Two Thirds Of Tory Voters Back 1% Income Tax Increase To Fund NHS

As the Chancellor weighs up how to pay for a £20bn cash injection

PA Wire/PA Images

Nearly two thirds of Tory voters in key Westminster battlegrounds would support Theresa May if she increased income tax to help fund the NHS, a new poll has found.

The YouGov poll for campaign group 38 Degrees reveals that 63% of Conservatives in marginal Parliamentary seats back the idea of a 1% hike in the tax to pay for the nation’s health service.

Some 69% of Conservatives overall would have a more favourable or unchanged view of their party if the PM opted for the hike.

And a sizeable majority of Labour voters (60%) would want the party to support a Tory Budget which introduced a tax rise for the NHS. Only 19% would want them to oppose the move.

The poll, with a large 6,000 sample size, also found that more than six in ten voters (64%) won’t take Brexit as an excuse for drift or delay on delivering additional funding for the NHS.

The news comes as Chancellor Philip Hammond grapples with how to fund the Government’s £20 billion promise to the NHS, in his October 29th Budget.

May has herself said that the public may have to “pay a little more” in tax to help fund the NHS, but there has traditionally been reluctance by Tory backbenchers to support any such moves.

Labour managed to secure a National Insurance rise in the early 2000s to help fund an increase to get health spending up to European levels after decades of underinvestment.

The NHS has seen a squeeze on funding under Tory austerity since 2010.

Over two thirds of Conservative Voters would have a more favourable (40%) or unchanged opinion (29%) of the Conservative Party if they proposed a 1% basic income tax increase to fund the NHS.

The poll also looked at key battlegrounds seats that will likely be a focus for the Conservative party at the next election, whenever it should come.

Budgets are usually in late November or December, but the Chancellor this week revealed an early date to avoid clashing with the conclusion of Brexit talks.

The survey also found the most popular ways for the NHS to allocate the extra funding were to hire more staff (50%), increase the number of hospital beds (38%), and reduce waiting times for cancer referral treatment (37%).

Trish Murray, Campaigns Manager, 38 Degrees, said: “The tide is turning on tax.

“While it has long been said that we punish political parties who raise taxes, this poll finds that the public - including conservative voters - want politicians to face up to the realities of funding the NHS.

“Voters up and down the country, and in seats that will be crucial at the next election, are willing to pay more for the health service - and back an income tax rise.

“The Chancellor should treat the public like grown ups. We know that extra money for our NHS has to come from somewhere, and this poll shows voters are willing to step up and pay a little bit more.”