Nuffield Trust response to Liberal Democrats manifesto

Funding and reform welcome, but new tax proposal raises big questions.

Press release

Published: 20/11/2019

Responding to the commitments to the NHS and social care in the Liberal Democrats’ manifesto, Nuffield Trust Chief Economist Professor John Appleby said:

“The immediate extra funding announced by the Liberal Democrats is welcome for the NHS and social care. The measures for student nurses should allow us to start rolling back spiralling vacancies by attracting new staff.

“But there are some big unanswered questions about the proposal to move to paying for care through a special Health and Care Tax. This idea puts the cart before the horse – we should decide how much we want to spend on the NHS and then raise the money, not just wait to see how much comes in. If revenues from this tax fall, in an economic downturn for example, it could mean cuts for health and care.

“Looking for cross party agreement on social care reform in England is a good idea and should have been done long ago. We need action on funding, staffing, and how services are run. The Liberal Democrats’ starting proposal of a cap on the amount people pay could help protect them against the catastrophic costs an unlucky few face today. But the crucial question will be where that cap is set.”

Notes to editors

  1. The Nuffield Trust is an independent health think tank. We aim to improve the quality of health care in the UK by providing evidence-based research and policy analysis and informing and generating debate.
  2. Read the Liberal Democrats’ manifesto here
  3. Professor Appleby wrote an article for the BMJ in March assessing the idea of a dedicated tax for the NHS.
  4. You can find our information pack of key facts and figures on the NHS and social care here: NHS and social care: Facts and figures for the 2019 general election.

For queries or to arrange an interview please contact the Nuffield Trust press office on 0207 462 0555 / 0207 462 0538 / 07920 043844 or email


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