That NHS spending row in full

by Stephen Tall on December 5, 2012

The story: Conservative Health secretary Jeremy Hunt ‘rebuked’ for claiming the Coalition has increased NHS spending in England.

The promise: that the NHS budget in England would be increased in real terms during the Coalition. That promise was kept (just) — the 2010 Spending Review committed the Coalition to a 0.1% real-terms annual increase.

The reality: the NHS did not spend all its budget in 2011/12. As a result, the out-turn in NHS spending has, probably, marginally fallen since 2009/10. Though the UK Statistics Authority concludes: “Given the small size of the changes and the uncertainties associated with them, it might also be fair to say that real terms expenditure had changed little over this period.”

The analogy: If you get a pay increase but don’t spend it all, would you be right to argue that your employers had cut your pay?

The context: Spending on the NHS in England is planned by the Coalition to be higher throughout this Parliament than it was in any year under Labour.

The sting in the tail: Just because the Coalition is increasing the NHS budget in real-terms doesn’t mean there aren’t big, looming problems in the affordability of health-care, as the IFS has highlighted, especially if the Dlnot reforms of social care are implemented in full or in part.

* Stephen Tall is Co-Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice, a Research Associate for the liberal think-tank CentreForum, and also writes at his own site, The Collected Stephen Tall.