NATIONAL: Tax could rise to historic levels to pay for NHS

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TAX may need to rise to historic new levels to give the NHS the money it needs to cope with an ageing population, a new report suggests.

A new analysis on what the NHS needs to cope with future demand shows that UK spending on healthcare will have to rise by an average 3.3 per cent a year over the next 15 years just to maintain NHS provision at current levels.

But in order to get the health service back on track with currently missed targets, to modernise and meet the needs of an ageing population, funding increases of 4 per cent a year would be required over the next 15 years, according to a report by the Health Foundation and the Institute for Fiscal Studies, in association with the NHS Confederation.

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According to the report, relying on the taxpayer to pay for this increase would lead to the UK tax burden as a share of GDP rising to ‘historically high levels’.

The report said: ‘The implication is clear: in the medium term, if we want even to maintain health and social care provision at current levels, taxes will have to rise.’

Paul Johnson, director of IFS and an author of the report, said: ‘We are finally coming face to face with one of the biggest choices in a generation.

‘If we are to have a health and social care system which meets our needs and aspirations, we will have to pay a lot more for it over the next 15 years.

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‘This time we won’t be able to rely on cutting spending elsewhere – we will have to pay more in tax.

‘But it is a choice: higher taxes and a health and social care system which meets our expectations and improves over time, or taxes at current levels and a more constrained health service delivering less than we have become accustomed to.’

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