Call for revived national insurance system

A trade union pamphlet has called for the restoration of a genuine national insurance system. It says successive governments have been guilty of undermining the system by cutting insurance benefits – and at the same time using contributions as a form of tax.

The authors argue that the national insurance system no longer enjoys popular support. Rather than the ‘something for nothing’ system attacked by populist politicians, there is instead a ‘nothing for something’ system, from which few people benefit but which costs a great deal through increasingly higher national insurance contributions. The pamphlet puts forward a plan to revive the system and restore its credibility:

  • The stigma of claiming could be reduced by raising the perceived value of contributions – by ensuring that many more people got some benefit or help in return at some stage in their lives.
  • Pooling risk across the population through national insurance would be cheaper and more efficient than for-profit private schemes.
  • The national insurance fund should be reinstated as a genuine pot of money, rather than a fiction used to raise taxes.
  • New contributory benefits could also provide help for parents, with training, and for unemployed people – giving higher benefits to those who had paid in sufficient contributions.

Source: Kate Bell and Declan Gaffney, Making a Contribution: Social Security for the Future, Trades Union Congress

Links: Pamphlet | TUC press release