The Liberal Democrats have promised to raise £6 billion a year extra to spend on the NHS and social care, by increasing all rates of income tax by 1p.
Although there was no mention in the announcement of working-age disabled people, the Liberal Democrats said they would spent at least £2 billion of the money on social care in the next financial year, and £1 billion on mental health.
The party said the measure was its “flagship spending commitment” and its first major policy announcement of the general election campaign.
It came as Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, in a speech at his party’s campaign launch, said Labour’s plan to “transform Britain” would mean “rebuilding our NHS and social care services with the funding they need”.
He also said a Labour government would introduce a “comprehensive programme to strengthen rights at work”, and that disabled people were among those who had been left to “foot the bill” by the “rich and powerful”.
And he told the audience in Manchester: “What’s remotely fair about the bedroom tax?
“What was fair about racking up tuition fees? Or about taking benefits away from people with disabilities?”
The Liberal Democrats said that health and social care services had been left “chronically under-funded” by the government, and the alternative to raising taxes was to “cut drastically from other essential public services, like schools and welfare, to keep the health and care system afloat”.
Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron said: “Theresa May doesn’t care about the NHS or social care.
“People are lying on trolleys in hospital corridors and she has done nothing. The truth is you can’t have a strong NHS with a hard Brexit.
“The Liberal Democrats will rescue the NHS and social care. We are prepared to be honest with people and say that we will all need to chip in a little more.”
The party’s shadow health secretary, Norman Lamb (pictured), said the new funding would be targeted to “areas that have the greatest impact on patient care such as social care, general practice, mental health and public health”.
The party said it would set out a five-point recovery plan for NHS and social care in its manifesto.
This will include the development of a dedicated health and care tax, which would bring together spending on both services into a single budget and set out how much was spent on them on people’s payslips.
There will also be a cross-party convention on health and care, which will work with patients, the public and NHS and care staff to review the long-term sustainability of the health and care systems, and examine the need for greater integration.
And a Liberal Democrat government would introduce a statutory, independent budget monitoring agency for health and care, an Office of Health and Care Funding, similar to the Office for Budget Responsibility set up by the coalition.
This would report every three years on how much money the system needed to cover government health targets, new initiatives, and projected increases in demand.