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Monday, July 15, 2024

£15 Billion NHS Boost Demanded at UK Budget

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The SNP has challenged Jeremy Hunt to boost NHS spending by a minimum of £15billion at the UK budget – warning “Scotland must not pay the price for Tory and Labour Party austerity cuts”.

With a week until the UK budget, Stephen Flynn MP said “protecting Scotland’s NHS and public services from Westminster cuts is the SNP’s number one priority at the UK budget”.

The SNP Westminster Leader warned “Tory and Labour Party plans to slash Scotland’s budget, and cut funding for frontline public services, are a clear and present danger to Scotland’s NHS”.

The UK government has already slashed Scotland’s budget by more than £2billion this year – with a £500million cut to Scotland’s block grant and a £1.6billion cut to Scotland’s capital budget in real terms since 2022-23 – forcing the Scottish Government to make reductions.

In total, planned Westminster cuts will reduce Scotland’s capital spending power by around 10% over the next five years.

The Institute for Fiscal Studies has warned the plans outlined in the UK government’s Autumn Statement will mean real-terms budget cuts in the region of 3.4% for some UK departments in the coming years – and Sir Keir Starmer’s Labour Party has forced itself to make similar cuts as a result of its damaging decision to copy Tory fiscal rules.

The SNP is calling for a minimum of £15billion of additional NHS funding, made up of:

  • £5billion to address the inflationary pressures of recent years – recognising that NHS spending faces real-terms cuts from the Tories. Health Foundation analysis suggests that NHS England funding was £3.5billion less in 23/24 than it was in 22/23 in real terms, and will fall a further £1billion in 24/25 under Autumn Statement plans.
  • £5billion to help fund the cost of the 2023/24 pay deals in the next financial year (2024/25) – since the Autumn Statement doesn’t include a single penny for these pay deals and treats the costs of increased pay in the NHS as though they were a one-off.
  • £5billion for improving NHS performance – recognising the need to invest more to improve services. As a percentage this is a modest but vital increase – NHS England’s budget for 2024/25 is £162.5bn.

SNP analysis shows this increase would provide more than £1.2billion in additional funding for Scotland’s NHS through Barnett consequentials.

Commenting, SNP Westminster Leader Stephen Flynn MP said:

“Protecting Scotland’s NHS and public services from Westminster cuts is the SNP’s number one priority at the UK budget – and it will be a major dividing line between the pro-investment SNP and the pro-cuts Tories and Labour Party at the general election.

“Scotland must not pay the price for Tory and Labour Party austerity.

“Rishi Sunak and Sir Keir Starmer’s shameful plans to take the axe to frontline public services are a clear and present danger to Scotland’s NHS.

“The UK government has already slashed Scotland’s budget by billions of pounds.

“While the SNP government will always do everything we can to defend public services, Scotland is not immune to the devastation imposed by Westminster cuts, Brexit and sky-high UK inflation.

“Under the SNP, Scotland has the best-performing NHS in the UK but Sunak and Starmer’s plans to slash funding, reduce staffing with Brexit, and introduce creeping privatisation poses a very real threat to the wellbeing of our NHS, our care system and families across Scotland.”

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