A lady I spoke to last week told me that she had no regrets about retiring because she had “paid her stamp” for more than 40 years. It’s a nice phrase, often used by an older generation, to refer to national insurance contributions – at one time literally stamps on a card – paid to fund a person’s old age state pension and to contribute to the NHS. It reflects the widely held view that people should contribute if they are able and pay their way.

It was therefore something of a surprise when the Chancellor announced in his last budget that the Government planned to get rid of National Insurance. It begs the question what would replace the fund because abolishing it altogether would leave a £46 billion black hole in the nation’s finances. Bearing in mind the Liz Truss budget, which introduced unfunded tax cuts, caused financial chaos and higher mortgages, the political as well as financial risk is huge.

The debate over the future of NI rumbles on in Westminster with the issue being raised often including at PMQ’s. Three times the Prime Minister was asked to rule out the cuts or explain what would fill the black hole but three times he refused. There are three options. Either make big cuts to the NHS or cut pensions or raise other taxes to rise to fill the gap. In the run up to elections voters deserve to know how policies are going to be paid for. Until the Government comes clean about the £46 billion NI black hole questions will continue to be asked.

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