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National Insurance uplift should be frozen, senior Suffolk Conservative says

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The National Insurance uplift should be frozen to help combat the cost of living crisis, a senior Suffolk Conservative has said.

And a meeting of health and council chiefs has heard that people should foster their community spirit from Covid-19 to help their neighbours and loved ones through the financial hardship.

Police and Crime Commissioner Tim Passmore told Thursday’s Health and Wellbeing Board that the National Insurance uplift – a 1.25 per cent increase from April to help fund health and social care – was hitting both workers and employers.

Endeavour House in Russell Road, Ipswich. Headquarters of Suffolk County Council and Babergh and Mid Suffolk district councils. Picture: Jason Noble.
Endeavour House in Russell Road, Ipswich. Headquarters of Suffolk County Council and Babergh and Mid Suffolk district councils. Picture: Jason Noble.

“This National Insurance surcharge, circumstances have changed since that was brought in. I do think [we should be] putting pressure on to get that either postponed or withdrawn altogether,” he said.

“Not only is it affecting individuals’ pay packets but for the Constabulary budget, which is £161million this year, that is another £1.25m out the window.

"And I still don’t see how it is going to help the health service because no doubt their employers overall extra National Insurance charge is going to deal with that.

Tim Passmore.
Tim Passmore.

“To me, it is nonsensical. It doesn’t matter if the government wants to change its mind – circumstances change, and it would at least help with some mitigation.

“There are a few small steps that might help, it would ease our collective budgets as well as for individuals and it could give us a little bit more resource to see what we could do to help.”

Figures published last week demonstrated that more than 135,000 people in Suffolk were living in relative poverty pre-pandemic – a figure expected to rise as a result of Covid-19 and the cost of living crisis.

It included more than 31,000 children and nearly 34,000 pensioners.

Meanwhile, around 55,000 people in Suffolk were claiming Universal Credit, many of those who are earning but still struggling to make ends meet.

Families have been hit with a series of cost rises in recent weeks, including the National Insurance uplift, council tax increases, and costs for fuel, food and energy going up.

The meeting heard that the cost of living crisis should be framed as “the next phase of the pandemic” in order for people to help look out for others in their communities over the financial struggles.

Wendy Herber, Independent chair of Healthwatch Suffolk said: “When you think of it in terms of next stage of the pandemic, it really helps to trigger why we need to think about different ways of working.

“There is a lot of anxiety and it is a really strange time, but perhaps if we do that it might help to trigger that community feeling. People really want to help but they don’t know what to do.”

It comes as Suffolk County Council published its poverty strategy and five-year action plan to help those struggling to make ends meet.