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£20.5 billion for NHS over five years confirmed in Budget

But Budget does little to address funding issues facing social care

Ingrid Torjesen

Tuesday, 30 October 2018

Chancellor Philip Hammond confirmed the £20.5bn funding for the NHS over the next five years yesterday in his 2018 Budget speech, but committed little new funding to the NHS’s “Achilles heel” social care.

The £20.5 billion for the NHS after inflation by 2023-24 was announced in the summer. While how the money will be spent will be determined by a future ten-year plan, the chancellor announced that more than £2 billion of the money will go to mental health.

The chancellor said that local authorities in England will receive a further £650 million in social care funding next year, adding that a Green Paper on the future of social care will be published shortly and longer-term funding addressed in the forthcoming Spending Review.

Dr Chaand Nagpaul, British Medical Association (BMA) council chair, welcomed the announcement that £2 billion is to be allocated for mental health services but said that it was “disappointing that the chancellor will draw upon the previously announced £20 billion funding the NHS is to receive over the next five years”.

Independent think-tanks have stated that the NHS needs a funding increase for the NHS of at least 4% a year - not the 3.4% the £20.5bn represents.

“The £20 billion that’s been promised over the next five years is not enough to make the NHS sustainable and so far no thought has been given to the additional financial drain to NHS resources that Brexit may bring,” Dr Nagpaul said.

"The chancellor should have used this opportunity to commit to a funding increase for the NHS that meets the needs of patients, with the £2 billion for mental health services coming from new additional investment, not drawn from an already inadequate pot. That said, we need to see the money being allocated quickly and effectively to an area of NHS care that’s been chronically neglected and underfunded for too long."

Niall Dickson, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, said that social care remains “the Achilles heel” for the NHS.

“It has been consistently underfunded, neglected and unloved by politicians over many years and the extra funding announced today – again welcome – is clearly inadequate.”

Richard Murray, director of policy at The King’s Fund, said: “The social care system cannot continue to get by on last-minute, piecemeal funding announcements. Adult social care in England needs at least £1.5 billion more per year simply to cope with demand meaning that the funding announced today, which will also need to cover children’s social care, falls far short.”

Hammond also used his Budget speech to announced that private finance initiatives will not be used to fund NHS infrastructure projects in the future, although existing contracts will be honoured.

“I remain committed to the use of public-private partnership where it delivers value for the taxpayer and genuinely transfers risk to the private sector, but there is compelling evidence that the Private Finance Initiative does neither,” he said.

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