It comes as the Tories’ lead in the polls plummeted this week, suggesting Mr Johnson’s so-called ‘vaccine rebound’ is fading amid criticism of the chaotic lifting of lockdown restrictions in a series. of cabinet rows.
A YouGov poll released on Friday places the party at 38 points, down six points from the previous week, while support for the Labor Party rose four points to 34%.
The intention to increase the tax is now expected to be announced in the fall, potentially out of budget, as part of a wider package of social protection reforms.
However, Mr Johnson must first overcome widespread opposition in Cabinet to the plan to increase national insurance – a violation of the 2019 Tory manifesto – with The Telegraph aware of five top ministers opposing it in private.
“It’s far from over”
Signaling a major row over the return of parliament in September, a cabinet minister warned on Saturday: “This is far from over. “
Meanwhile, with Mr Sunak fearing that higher taxes during the pandemic recovery will hurt working families, a temporary suspension or tampering with how the triple lockdown is calculated is increasingly seen as inevitable.
There are fears that the increase in national insurance could be seen as a tax on young workers, who have been hit hardest by the pandemic.
The prospect that retirees, who do not pay national insurance, receive a windfall as national insurance is increased for workers is also seen as “grossly unfair” by a number of ministers, one of them. them declaring last night: “It must go”.
Sir Andrew Dilnot, the economist whose ten-year-old welfare recommendations are Mr Johnson’s preferred model, has suggested that retirees pay NICs to fund reforms. But this is seen as complex, with insiders also warning that it is failing to raise enough money.
At present, the state pension increases each year based on the Consumer Price Index (CPI), a measure of inflation, increasing average wages, or 2.5 percent, depending on the higher of the two.
Due to the artificial increase in income following the return of millions of workers from leave, the state pension is currently set to increase to 8%.
“The young people had a hell of a time, they had a punch”
“You exclude the people who really need it [social care reform] while increasing taxes for young people, so there is a difficulty in that perspective, ”said a cabinet minister.
A second said: “The young people had a hell of a time, they had a slap, you have to think of them. Why should they foot the bill right now? “
However, any decision to suspend the triple lockdown is unlikely to prevent a major Cabinet split over the planned increase in national insurance, Kwasi Kwarteng, the Secretary of Business, publicly saying this week that he believed the hike would take place. would continue.
Colleagues have privately described the business secretary as being instinctively opposed to a “low tax conservative.”
Others said they believed it was a blatant violation of the clear commitment not to raise income tax, national insurance or VAT as part of a triple tax foreclosure.
“It’s not agreed, end,” said a cabinet minister. “We have Cabinet government and we will see what is agreed. We need to think about it. It is far from over. “
Another added: “I think it’s difficult when there is a clear commitment not to increase national insurance. “
Separately, Downing Street faces major backlash from business groups over the rise in national insurance, which is expected to hit both employees and employers, with a prominent industry figure describing it as an “employment tax”.
In a clear wake-up call, they added that the increase in NPI after corporate tax in the last budget meant that the current Conservative administration was the “most anti-business” in recent memory.