UK's Liz Truss supported charging patients for GP visits, report reveals

Document from 2009 shows Ms Truss also wanted to see the universal child benefit abolished

Britain's Conservative leadership candidate Liz Truss speaks during a hustings event in Perth, Scotland. Reuters
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UK patients should be charged to see their GP and doctors’ pay should be slashed by 10 per cent, Tory leadership candidate Liz Truss said in a pamphlet she co-authored in 2009.

Ms Truss also expressed a desire to see the universal child benefit abolished in the unearthed 40-page document that the front-runner co-wrote with six other people when she was deputy director of the Reform think tank.

The document entitled “Back to Black”, written after the financial crisis and when Labour was in government, reveals the authors’ proposals to significantly shrink the state and cut government spending, TalkTV’s The News Desk reported on Thursday.

Under a section called “Introduce user charges for GPs”, the pamphlet says: “User charges should be introduced and there should be greater reliance upon other health professionals … for treating less serious ailments.”

It claims that such fees “could save the NHS money” and “would lead to a reduction in demand, which would, in turn, save the NHS the costs of providing unnecessary services”.

“Reduce the pay of doctors and NHS managers by 10 per cent,” the report continues.

“Abolish universal child benefit. Instead child benefit should be targeted on families on low incomes.

“Remove pensioner gimmicks, such as the winter fuel payment and free TV licences for over-75s.

“Introduce market rates for interest on student loans.”

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It also calls for several major military procurement projects to be cut, including the Royal Navy’s two new aircraft carriers HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince of Wales, which are described as “inappropriate defence projects” that “do not contribute to the UK’s modern defence requirements”.

During her leadership campaign, the foreign secretary has set out plans to grow defence spending to 3 per cent of gross domestic product by 2030.

It comes as Ms Truss’s rival in the race for No 10, Rishi Sunak, again said her tax-cutting plans could fan the flames of inflation.

Economists at the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) have said that permanent tax cuts, which Ms Truss has gone further in pledging than Mr Sunak, could “exacerbate” pressures on public spending.

They cast doubt on the “plausibility” of the promises without spending cuts after inflation soared to 10.1 per cent, a 40-year record.

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Ms Truss’s campaign has been approached for comment on the 2009 report, which could hint at her ideological approach to government spending if she enters Downing Street in September.

“Co-authoring a document does not mean that someone supports every proposal put forward,” her campaign team told The News Desk.

“Liz is focused on her bold economic plan to boost growth, cut taxes and put money back into hardworking people’s pockets.”

Labour suggested the report revealed Ms Truss’s true motivations.

“Liz Truss’s track record shows her true colours. She is out of touch and out of step with the public,” said Angela Rayner, the opposition party’s deputy leader.

“The reality of her agenda is devastating cuts that risk national security, punishing patients already facing record waiting times and cutting the pay of frontline workers.

“Her desperate attempts to distance herself from her own views now will fool no one.

“Liz Truss in charge would leave working people facing a cost-of-living emergency with higher bills and poorer services.”

Ms Truss promoted Reform’s “Back to Black” report with articles in The Spectator and Conservative Home after its publication in April 2009.

Updated: August 18, 2022, 10:20 PM
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