James Heappey Burnham-On-Sea MP

Burnham-On-Sea’s MP has this week voted in favour of a controversial £12billion tax hike to fund the NHS Covid backlog and overhaul social care.

James Heappey was among the MPs who voted in favour by 319 to 248 for a 1.25 percentage point rise in National Insurance for workers and employers to help fund health and social care.

Somerset MPs James Heappey (Wells), Rebecca Pow (Taunton Deane), David Warburton (Somerton and Frome), John Penrose (Weston) and Jacob Rees-Mogg (North East Somerset) all voted in favour of the plan.

There were no votes recorded for Ian Liddell-Grainger (Bridgwater and West Somerset) or Marcus Fysh (Yeovil).

Boris Johnson hopes the tax increase, which breaks a Conservative manifesto pledge, will raise £12bn a year.

The prime minister said his plan would deal with “catastrophic costs” faced by those who need care.

But Labour raised concerns that people could still have to sell their home in order to pay for the help they need.

During a House of Commons debate, some Conservative MPs also raised objections to the proposals. Former minister Steve Baker called on his party to “rediscover what it stands for” rather than “every time there is a squeeze on the public finances, coming back for higher taxes.”

Opposition MPs voted against the rise but the Government, which has a majority of more than 80, comfortably won the vote.

Five Conservatives – Sir Christopher Chope, Philip Davies, Neil Hudson, Esther McVey and John Redwood – voted against the changes while 37 Conservative MPs abstained. However, while some abstained due to concerns about the tax rise, others may have simply been given permission to miss the vote.

Boris Johnson says the majority of the funds raised by the tax rise will go towards catching up on the backlog in the NHS created by Covid. A smaller portion of the money – £5.4bn over the next three years – will also go towards changes to the social care system, with more promised after that.


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