The increase in National Insurance should be postponed or withdrawn to help people suffering in the cost-of-living crisis, according to a senior Suffolk Conservative.

Police and Crime Commissioner Tim Passmore told Thursday’s Health and Wellbeing Board that the National Insurance uplift – a 1.25% increase from April to help fund health and social care – was hitting both workers and employers.

He said: “This National Insurance surcharge, circumstances have changed since that was brought in. I do think [we should be] putting pressure on to get that either postponed or withdrawn altogether.

“Not only is it affecting individuals’ pay packets but for the Constabulary budget, which is £161million this year, that is another £1.25m out the window. And I still don’t see how it is going to help the health service because no doubt their employer's overall extra National Insurance charge is going to deal with that.

“To me, it is nonsensical. It doesn’t matter if the government wants to change its mind – circumstances change, and it would at least help with some mitigation.

“There are a few small steps that might help, it would ease our collective budgets as well as for individuals and it could give us a little bit more resource to see what we could do to help.”

Figures published last week demonstrated that more than 135,000 people in Suffolk were living in relative poverty pre-pandemic – a figure expected to rise as a result of Covid-19 and the cost of living crisis.

It included more than 31,000 children and nearly 34,000 pensioners. Meanwhile, around 55,000 people in Suffolk were claiming Universal Credit, many of those who are earning but still struggling to make ends meet.

The meeting heard that the cost-of-living crisis should be framed as “the next phase of the pandemic” in order for people to help look out for others in their communities over the financial struggles.

Wendy Herber, chair of Healthwatch Suffolk, said: “There is a lot of anxiety and it is a really strange time, but perhaps if we do that it might help to trigger that community feeling. People really want to help but they don’t know what to do.”