As the general election campaign continues to unfold, the third-favourite in the running has outlined a radical proposal related to the NHS.
The Liberal Democrats will increase income tax by a penny in order to inject £6 billion annually into the NHS and social care, should they form part of the government.
Of course, the odds are massively against this, with the party currently trailing behind the Conservatives in polling by a considerable distance.
But the leader of the Liberal Democrats, Tim Farron, has made NHS spending commitment a key pledge of the party’s general election campaign.
Farron suggested that it is widely recognised by the general public that taxpayers should chip in a little more in order to address the chronic underfunding of healthcare.
And the plan announced by the Liberal Democrats would see a penny would be added to the basic, high and additional rates of income tax, and the rate of dividend tax, from the forthcoming financial year.
And Farron guarantees that the £6 billion that this would raise would be ring-fenced for investment in critical NHS, social care and public health services.
This is certainly a controversial and potentially unpopular policy, yet the Liberal Democrats may feel that the party has nothing to lose in the existing electoral climate.
By contrast, he Conservative party has been keen to emphasise that there will be no tax rises should they win the forthcoming election, while even the Labour Party has stated recently that 95% of the population will face no tax rises under a Labour government.
But in an attempt to connect with voters, Farron suggested that Tory policy was indicative of a lack of consideration for the importance of healthcare.
“Theresa May doesn’t care about the NHS or social care. People are lying on trolleys in hospital corridors and she has done nothing. The Liberal Democrats will rescue the NHS and social care. We are prepared to be honest with people and say that we will all need to chip in a little more.”
And the party’s health spokesman, Norman Lamb, also backed up the opinion of Farron, asserting that the extra tax money would be hugely valuable for the future of the NHS.
“The NHS was once the envy of the world and this pledge is the first step in restoring it to where it should be. A penny on the pound to save the NHS is money well spent in our view.”
Although tax rises to pay for healthcare services have rarely proved to be popular policies in the past, the Liberal Democrats asserted that an opinion poll last year found that 70% of voters would back a one penny tax rise.