Theresa May under pressure to explain NHS cash boost ‘black hole’

Posted On: 
18th June 2018

Theresa May’s pledge to dramatically increase funding for the NHS faces an £11bn black hole, after ministers failed to agree on how it would be paid for.

The Health Secretary and the Prime Minister ahead of the funding boost announcement

According to the Times, the £25bn pay rise for the health service was signed off at a meeting on Friday between the Prime Minister, the Chancellor Philip Hammond, the Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt and NHS chief Simon Stevens.

But the newspaper reports that during the discussions they were unable to agree on how the pay rise would be funded, with almost half left unaccounted for.  

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A ministerial source said: “By the end of the meeting, some sources of funding had been more heavily pencilled in than others.”  

The announcement prompted criticism yesterday, after Mrs May described the extra money – which works out at an extra £384m a week - as a ‘Brexit dividend’.

Although she later hinted that tax hikes were on the cards, telling LBC Radio: “We as a country will contribute a bit more.” 

Paul Johnson of the Institute for Fiscal Studies dismissed the suggestion that the cash would come from Britain leaving the EU, telling the BBC: “There isn’t a Brexit dividend.”

Elsewhere, Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell asked: "Is this coming from borrowing? What are the tax rises? Where is this Brexit dividend that no-one believes at all? It's all those questions that need to be answered."

The Prime Minister will set out the proposals in a speech in London today, in which she will call on the NHS to ensure that "every penny is well spent".

Mrs May will tell health service bosses to come up with a ten-year plan, laying out how the money will be spent.

"It must be a plan that tackles waste, reduces bureaucracy and eliminates unacceptable variation," she will say.