May 'locks in Brexit' with multi-million national health fund boost

Glen Mclaughlin
June 20, 2018

LONDON - Theresa May's claim that a "Brexit dividend" will fund increases in spending on the National Health Service has been rubbished by economists and senior Conservative colleagues.

May said in a speech that the cash-strapped National Health Service would receive $27 billion in extra funding by 2023-24, a 3.4 percent annual rise in real terms.

The PM will say that money that no longer needs to be paid to the European Union after Brexit will help fund the increase by 2023-24, and the country will also be asked to contribute more for the NHS.

May wrote in the Mail on Sunday that paying smaller contributions to the European Union budget after Brexit would free up money to spend on the NHS, while Downing Street claimed on Twitter that the commitment would be funded by a "Brexit dividend". "Let's fund our NHS instead", said the slogan, infuriating the Remain campaign which bitterly disputed the figures.

Setting out the plans, Mrs May said: "We can not continue to put a sticking plaster on the NHS budget each year, so we will do more than simply give the NHS a one-off injection of cash".

"It must be a plan that tackles wastes, reduces bureaucracy, and eliminates unacceptable variation, with all these efficiency savings reinvested back into patient care".

"As we celebrate the fact that our NHS is 70 years young, it's important we look to how we deliver the sustainable health and social care communities across Scotland will require in the future", she added.

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All three think tanks have said that NHS funding would need to increase by at least 4% a year in real terms in order to meet the NHS's needs.

Last month the IFS released a report which considered the impact of increasing NHS funding on other areas of government spending. She said: "The Brexit dividend tosh was expected but treats the public as fools".

On the question of raising income tax to help finance extra funds for the NHS budget, May was not able to explicitly say who would bear the brunt of these increases.

The Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry's chief executive Mike Thompson said the funding announcement for the NHS is "very much welcome".

Tory chair of the Commons Health Committee Sarah Wollaston branded talk of a Brexit bonanza "tosh", while shadow chancellor John McDonnell said the Government's plans were "just not credible" without details of how they would be funded.

She said she wanted to see better mental health services and cancer survival rates. Without tax increases, Hammond would nearly certainly be forced to abandon his plans to erase the budget deficit by the middle of the next decade. "It must be a plan that enjoys the support of NHS staff across the country - not something dreamt up in Whitehall and centrally imposed".

May is under pressure to explain how the government intends to pay for increased NHS spending. "And we want to listen to people about how we do that, and the chancellor will bring forward the full set of proposals before the spending review".

Other reports by MaliBehiribAe

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