HEALTH and social care need urgent investment. Everyone agrees with that. The question is: how should the money be raised? Surely not from the pockets of the low paid. But that’s exactly what Boris Johnson has done.

By increasing National Insurance contributions, the Government has picked the wrong tax, and penalised the wrong people. Something Boris Johnson said he wouldn’t do. But no one is surprised. He always says one thing, and does the other.

The current rate of National Insurances is 12 per cent on earnings of between £9,564 and £50,268. Anything above that attracts a rate of only two per cent. Proportionately, the low paid will be hit the hardest. Including care homes workers.

Low wages and low morale have led to a shortage of 100,000 jobs in the care sector. A hike in National Insurance contributions will only make the situation worse.

Also, according to the Federation of Small Businesses, 50,000 jobs will be lost across the wider economy.

I don’t believe it’s right that low paid workers should pick up the tab to pay for the Conservatives’ decade of underfunding our health and care services. Neither do I believe it’s right that a pensioner has to sell their house when they’ve paid into the system all their working lives to cover care costs, especially when, in the North East, house prices are so much lower than those in London.

The less you have, the more you pay.

Yes, social care funding needs resolving. The circle needs to be squared. Yet surely it is wrong of Johnson to raise the rate of National Insurance stating that it will fix the problem when he has no plans for reform.

In fact, it is simply a tax rise. It would have been far more honest for him to say so, but he chose not to.

The basic principle of taxation should be: those with the broadest shoulders pay their fair share. That’s why we should look at other sources of funding, including property and assets.

Fair taxes need to be raised in the medium term. For example, aligning Capital Gains Tax and Income Tax, would raise £10bn, almost as much as the NI increase hitting the low paid.

However, addressing investment in the long-term is not just an issue for this government. The scale of reforms is too big and complicated for that. I believe it’s now time for a cross-party Parliamentary Commission to look at the long-term trends in health and how they are to be funded as life expectancy increases.

I know from experience that cross-party working in Parliament, with the aid of experts, can deliver results. What ever the conclusions of such a commission, they should be for the long-term and based on inter-generational fairness.

The country’s health and social care system can no longer be a political football.

Phil Wilson is the former Labour MP for Sedgefield