BORIS Johnson was accused of asking “Scottish taxpayers to bail out England’s failing social care system” as he faced fierce questioning from SNP MPs during a Westminster debate on plans to hike National Insurance (NI) contributions.

The Tories announced their intention to raise NI payments by 1.25% in order to fund social care in England, with Barnett consequentials in turn passed on to the devolved nations.

The plan was derided by opposition politicians in the chamber for forcing society’s worst off to pay more. However, Johnson insisted it was “the reasonable and the fair approach”.

SNP MP Richard Thomson asked: “With hedge fund owners to the left of him, and millionaire property owners to the right, can the Prime Minister explain what it was the persuaded him to embed the advantages of inherited wealth and privilege and instead shift the burden for paying for this policy onto the lowest earning and youngest in society?”

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In response, Johnson claimed he did not “think there’s much inherited either left, right, or in the middle of this particular trio”.

It is unclear exactly which “trio” Johnson was referring to, but visible behind him was Rishi Sunak, who is married to Akshata Murthy, daughter of Indian billionaire NR Narayana Murthy.

Johnson, who was privately educated at Eton, has a distinguished family himself. Among others, his grandfather James Fawcett is a former president of the European Commission for Human Rights, and his great-great-grandfather, Sir George Williams, founded the YMCA.

Echoing the attack line he had used against the SNP earlier in the debate, Johnson went on: “Again, what I find extraordinary is that the Scottish nationalist party would rather not have the Union dividend that this programme produces.”

Johnson previously said Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland will in total receive an extra £2.2 billion a year as a result of the new levy. He said this would be more than was contributed, creating a “Union dividend” of around £300 million.

Thomson thanked the Prime Minister “for at least providing clarity that any reference to a Union dividend simply refers to devolved nations getting their taxes that they pay back, and having the balance filled up with UK borrowing”.

SNP MP Stephen Flynn also attacked the Prime Minister for his plan to raise NI contributions.

Flynn, who represents Aberdeen South, said: “Let’s be clear. Scottish taxpayers are being asked to bail out England’s failing social care system, a mess created by the UK Government opposite.

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“So, can I ask the Prime Minister in all good sincerity, does he believe that his new poll tax will help or hinder the cause of Scottish independence?”

Johnson responded: “Good luck with that one is all I can say to him. What the people of Scotland, and the whole of the UK are getting, is £2.2 billion more across the whole of the [devolved administrations] and a £300 million Union dividend.

“If they don’t want to spend it, if they don’t want to spend it on health and social care, if they don’t want to spend it at all, if he’s handing this money back then let’s hear it from the Scottish nationalist party. Do they want it or don't they?”

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer also opposed the NI increase and told the Prime Minister a tax on wealth aimed at “those with the broadest shoulders” should be used to pay for an improved social care system.

Starmer said Johnson had announced: “A tax rise on young people, supermarket workers and nurses, a tax rise that means a landlord renting out dozens of properties won’t pay a penny more but the tenants working in full-time jobs would, a tax rise that places another burden on business just as they are trying to get back on their feet.

“Read my lips: the Tories can never again claim to be the party of low tax,” he added.

Initially, main rate National Insurance contributions will increase by 1.25 percentage points from 12% to 13.25% from April 2022 as systems are updated.

From 2023, the health and social care levy element will then be separated out and the exact amount employees pay will be visible on their pay slips.

Downing Street said that a typical basic rate taxpayer earning £24,100 would pay £180 a year, while a higher rate taxpayer on £67,100 would pay £715 as a result of the new tax.

There will also be a 1.25 percentage point increase in the dividend tax to ensure those who receive their income from shares also contribute.