NHS Finance

19.06.18

PM reported to Advertising Standards Authority over Brexit dividend claims

The prime minister has been reported to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) for claiming that a “Brexit dividend” would partly fund her NHS funding pledge.

Theresa May has said that the NHS will receive an additional £20bn a year by 2024, which will be funded by a combination of a Brexit dividend and tax increases which, in real terms, equates to around £600m a week.

The official 10 Downing Street Twitter account has tweeted graphics, reinforcing this claim.

However, the prime minister has been criticised for making claims that a Brexit dividend could fund the NHS, with the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) arguing that Brexit will not give the government sufficient extra funds.

According to Carl Emmerson, deputy director of the IFS; and Thomas Pope, IFS research economist; Brexit will worsen the UK’s public finances with a reduction in tax revenues of around £15bn in 2020-21, a large “divorce settlement” of continued large payments, and the cost of replacing EU spending, with agriculture alone amounting to around £3bn a year.

On Sunday, Paul Johnson, director of the IFS, told the BBC that there is no Brexit dividend.

He said: “So there isn’t a dividend in two senses; first over this period, if you look at the arrangement we’ve come to with the European Union in terms of paying our exit bill, and you add to that the commitment the governments already made to keep funding farmers and so on, there is literally arithmetically no money, and in addition we know, because the government accepted this, that the public finances will be worse as a result of the Brexit vote.”

Deputy Labour leader Tom Watson has demanded that the ASA takes action over the prime minister’s claim, which he has called “at best misleading and at worst a complete myth.”

In a letter to the ASA, seen by Politics Home, Watson has reminded the authority that campaigns of local authorities, government and other public bodies are subject to the same rules as those of commercial companies.

He said: “The thread of graphics posted by the UK prime minister Twitter account was an ad campaign promoting the government’s policy to millions of followers.

“Given the importance of the NHS to the millions of people who follow government advertising on the UK prime minister twitter feed, I request that you investigate whether the advertising material breaches ASA policy that advertising has to be supported by the robust evidence.”

Top image: PA Wire

 

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