Join the first NHS tax hack
An experiment to mobilise the 70% who would pay more tax to fund the NHS.
This post follows: NHS tax hack — an idea and NHS tax hack — time for action (if you’ve not seen those yet, you might want to start there for a bit of context)and links to the website www.nhstaxhack.org.uk
The story so far
A few weeks ago I did some research with people in my network to explore the idea of an NHS tax hack — a way to mobilise the 70% of us who are prepared to pay more tax to fund the NHS. The idea is to build a work-around (a ‘tax hack’) to get additional funding to where it’s needed until the UK government can be convinced to raise taxes for real. The research showed that:
IF there was a transparent and trustworthy third party that could get your money to the NHS in a way that has a positive impact THEN a lot of people would be prepared to do it.
The biggest assumption behind the idea is that people genuinely will pay more ‘tax’ on a monthly basis to fund the NHS (rather than just saying that they would).
So this post is an experiment to test this assumption.
Join the experiment
The experiment is a ‘one month tax hack’ to get additional funding to a specific NHS Trust that really needs it.
Here are the steps I took to set up this experiment (you can read lots more detail in the paragraphs below):
If 100 of us are prepared to start paying I will consider the test a success and put the time into setting up a way for us to do this in a more structured and scalable way.
If you’re already prepared to test paying an extra 1% tax on your income to the NHS then join the tax hack right here with this link to Just Giving:
I imagine you’ll probably want to read a bit more of the detail below before making this decision — but I wanted to put this link in early in case you were keen!
Here’s the detail on how the experiment was set up:
1. Identify which NHS Trust to support
The research I did within my network suggests that potential NHS tax hackers are keen to know that their money is being targeted to the parts of the NHS that need it most.
Many said that they would want an expert panel to decide where the money goes, and some said it should be given directly to hospitals for them to decide how to spend it.
So for the purposes of this experiment we will use NHS staff opinion as our ‘expert panel’ use this to target funding to a specific NHS Trust.
I chose an NHS Staff Survey conducted by Nursing Times to identify the worst performing acute hospital for the question:
“If a friend or relative needed treatment I would be happy with the standard of care provided by this organisation”
With only 48% of nurses responding positively, Walsall Healthcare NHS Trust was identified as the hospital most in need of support.
- Walsall Healthcare NHS Trust provides local general hospital & community services to around 260,000 people in Walsall and the surrounding areas (north of Birmingham). They are the only provider of NHS acute care in Walsall
- Walsall Hospital had no spare bed capacity in 26 of the 35 nights leading up to Christmas (link)
- Walsall Healthcare NHS Trust is in what the Care Quality Commission call Special Measures. It’s maternity services are of particular concern. (link)
2. Find a trusted third party to accept and use the funding on behalf of the Trust
It’s not possible at this stage to give additional ‘tax hack’ money directly to an NHS Trust, although this may be possible at scale. My research suggested that where a third party needs to exist between tax hackers and the NHS, it should be as lightweight and transparent as possible.
Charities are ‘transparent’ registered bodies regulated by the Charities Commission. So for this experiment I have identified the charity set up to support Walsall Healthcare NHS Trust >>> Well Wishers.
In my mind this is not a charitable donation. We’re just using the charitable arm of the NHS Trust as way to get our additional tax to the right place in a trustworthy and transparent way. We do not want to set the precedent that we should all treat the NHS as an optional charity — we want to see the NHS funded through appropriate taxation.
3. Set up a transparent mechanism for paying the money
Well Wishers are already set up on the fundraising platform Just Giving.
They charge a fee for processing the transactions, but this is outweighed by the fact that they manage Gift Aid automatically, which adds an extra 25% onto each ‘donation’.
4. Set a funding goal
Ultimately NHS tax hackers want to be able to get their additional tax to where it is most needed. As discussed in previous posts, there are a number of ways that this could be achieved.
But for the purposes of this experiment we’re going to keep things simple. The charitable arm of a hospital is limited on what it is able to spend money on. For example, I believe they are not able to spend on staffing costs or on equipment that might be viewed as essential to the running of the hospital.
So in the Just Giving campaign (which is how they will receive the funds) we have left it up to Well Wishers how they use the money. The aim is that they will use it to support their existing work to improve patient care. If you’d like to read more about the 6 ways that financial pressures can directly affect patient care then read this research from the Kings Fund.
The target of the campaign is £3000, which represents 100 people paying £30/month of extra ‘tax’.
For context: if this group was then to pay this extra tax monthly it would pay the salary of a full time nurse (link).
Call to action
If you’re ready to test paying an extra 1% tax on your income to the NHS then join the tax hack right here with this link to Just Giving:
Thanks and more info
Thanks for reading this far down the page, I really appreciate it. As I mentioned above, this is very much an experiment at this stage, not a solution. If you have any ideas or feedback please do post here or email me at tccorfield at gmail dot com.
To stay up to date on NHS tax hack, follow this Medium series or check out www.nhstaxhack.org.uk