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15.11.16

Chancellor denies Health Committee request for increased NHS funding

Chancellor Philip Hammond has insisted existing funding arrangements for the NHS are adequate following an appeal from the Health Select Committee.

Members of the committee, including its Dr Sarah Wollaston MP, wrote to Hammond last month urging him to use the Autumn Statement to increase the amount of funding available to the NHS.

In his response, the chancellor said he “wanted to reiterate the government’s commitment to supporting the NHS”.

Dr Wollaston asked the government to make the further capital resources required for the success of the STPs available, as well as commit to addressing the crisis in social care funding and look again at the middle years of the Spending Review, when funding is due to decline in real terms.

In response, Hammond said that the £20bn of capital investment being given to the Department of Health over the course of the Spending Review was enough, and that the government would “consider” additional requests for capital spending in the STPs when they are submitted.

He also insisted that local authorities were being given access to £3.5bn in additional funding by the end of this Parliament, which would allow them to increase care funding in real terms, and that the NHS would receive a “frontloaded” settlement with real-terms increases every year.

But Simon Stevens, the chief executive of NHS England, has said that funding will undergo negative growth per person in 2018-19.

The chancellor also defended government claims that it is providing an additional £10bn to the NHS, despite criticisms of that figure on the grounds that it is produced by adding a year to the Spending Review period and excluding cuts to non-NHS spending, such as public health.

He argued that the government uses a 2014-15 baseline because it “started funding the Five Year Forward View soon after it was published in October 2014” and that the figure “has always referred specifically to the NHS”.

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