The NHS is not free


 After Daniel Hannan appeared on American TV criticising the NHS, Twitter has been flooded by the #welovethenhs campaign. Looking at the tweets coming in, there’s a striking number saying this sort of thing:

NHS = free treatment when you need it. What's not to like?

I love NHS emergency care and my ongoing completely free treatment

I've had all my dental treatments and optician vouchers on the nhs - without the nhs I'd be at least £1000 poorer

Now, of course these people know that the NHS is paid for by taxation, so it’s strange that they give it such credit for being ‘free’. Then again, with NI contributions, stealth taxes, PAYE and government borrowing, it’s all too easy for us to forget how much we actually pay.

The next government (in the spirit of Cameroonian transparency) should send each household a yearly receipt. The average household’s would have looked like this last year:

Your Income: £30,390
Direct Taxes: £7,396
Indirect Taxes: £4,904
Borrowed On Your Behalf: £1,320
Your Total Bill: £13,620 (45% of your earnings, £6.97 for each hour you worked)

 Services You Paid For:

  • Health £2,317
  • Pensions £2,285
  • Welfare £2,130
  • Education £1,740
  • Defence £895
  • Protection £743
  • Debt Interest £689
  • Government Costs £564
  • Transport £493
  • Other Spending £1,767

Telling each citizen how much of their money is taken and for what purpose would stimulate democratic debate over the level and direction of public spending. When holding a receipt in their hand, people might tweet a different tune.

NB. Click for sources on taxation and expenditure.