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Boris Johnson has failed to rule out imposing further tax rises, after he broke a Conservative manifesto commitment not to do so.
The government announced on Tuesday tax hikes for millions of Britons in order to pump an extra £12bn a year into the NHS and social care.
Speaking at a Downing Street press conference, the prime minister defended the move as necessary in the wake of the Covid crisis.
“This new levy will break our manifesto commitment but a global pandemic wasn’t in our manifesto either,” he said.
“Everyone knows in their bones that after everything we have spent to protect people through that crisis we cannot now shirk the challenge of putting the NHS back on its feet.”
Johnson said no Conservative government wanted to raise taxes, but he did not want to increase borrowing to pay for social care.
But asked repeatedly if he would rule out raising taxes again in this parliament, he would only say he had an “emotional commitment” not to do so.
“I certainly don’t want any more tax rises this parliament,” he added.
Under the new social care levy a typical basic rate taxpayer earning £24,100 would pay £180 more a year, while a higher rate taxpayer on £67,100 would pay £715.
As well as providing extra funding for the NHS to deal with the backlog built up during the Covid-19 pandemic, the new package of £36 billion over three years will also reform the way adult social care in England is funded.
A cap of £86,000 on lifetime care costs from October 2023 will protect people from the “catastrophic fear of losing everything”, Johnson told the Commons earlier.
The government will fully cover the cost of care for those with assets under £20,000, and contribute to the cost of care for those with assets between £20,000 and £100,000.
MPs will vote on the measures on Wednesday and despite hostility to tax rises on the Tory benches, criticism was muted in the Commons.