The NHS repairs budget has been slashed by £1.1bn, in an unpublicised cut included in George Osborne's 2016 Budget.
The Chancellor did not mention the cut in his Budget speech, and the 30% decrease in funding was only uncovered following a Labour-sponsored review of the Budget by the House of Commons Library.
The capital budget of the NHS is used to fund repairs and replace out-of-date or broken equipment. The NHS was expected to be allocated £4.8bn to cover this area, but the Budget revealed the health service will only be receiving £3.7bn of capital budget,
George Osborne 2016 budget at a glance
George Osborne 2016 budget at a glance
1/8 Debt forecasts up, growth forecasts down
The OBR’s new forecasts have downgraded growth in all of the next five years to 2020. The watchdog says the economy will only grow by 2 per cent in 2016, as opposed to the anticipated 2.4 per cent. Borrowing and productivity growth are also down – with forecast borrowing in 2018-198 £16 billion higher
2/8 New tax on sugary drinks
The Chancellor announced a new tax on sugary soft drinks, which is projected to raise £520 million. At least some of the money will be spent on doubling funding for school sport, the Chancellor says. Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn welcomed the levy
3/8 Tax cut for higher earners paying the 40p rate
The Chancellor has raised the threshold for paying the higher rate of income tax to £45,000. The higher rate is paid by roughly the richest 15 per cent, currently people earning over £42,386
4/8 Increase in tax-free income tax threshold
The tax-free allowance increase to £11,500 in April 2017 – up from £10,600 now. The Chancellor previously raised the allowance from £6,475 in coalition with the Liberal Democrats. The Conservative manifesto pledges to put the allowance up to £12,500 by the end of the Parliament
5/8 New devolution for counties and powers for London and Manchester
The West of England, the East of England and Greater Lincolnshire will all get elected mayor-led combined authorities with new powers. The Chancellor says they are backed by £1 billion new funding. Greater Manchester will get new powers of criminal justice while London will keep its business rates – giving whoever is elected Mayor a lot more spending power
6/8 Fuel duty frozen for sixth year running
The Chancellor had planned to end the fuel duty freeze he had put in place for the whole previous parliament. In the event, he has announced a freeze for another year
7/8 All schools to become academies
As reported yesterday the Chancellor unveiled legislation to turn all schools into academies. He said all schools would either be academies or on their way to being academies by 2020, and that funding had been set aside to fund the change
8/8 Lifetime ISA
The Chancellor announced a new savings account to encourage under-40s to save for retirement – for every £4 saved, the Government will top this up by £1 up to the value of £4,000 a year. Tax-free ISAs will also be increased from £15,000 to £20,000
It will cost the NHS an estimated £4.3bn to complete all outstanding maintenance work. This includes £458m of repairs classified as "high-risk", which could endanger patients' lives and wellbeing if they are not repaired.
Serious issues classified as "high-risk" include leaking roofs and out-of-date scanners.
Speaking to the Guardian, shadow health secretary Heidi Alexander said: “Five years of Tory neglect has left many hospitals with ageing equipment and a growing bill for urgent maintenance.
“However, rather than properly investing in our NHS, George Osborne has raided the money hospitals need to carry out these essential repairs and replace out-of-date equipment. This is bad for patient care."
But a spokesperson for the Department of Health rejected the criticism, saying: “This government is investing £10bn in the NHS’s own plan for the future, and we’ve made almost £4bn available for capital projects this year which local trusts can apply for to undertake maintenance or building projects."
Last year, the Chancellor of the Exchequer asserted that he would not be cutting core NHS services, despite reducing funding for the organisation as a whole.
However, an independent review by the Health Foundation revealed his planned cuts would actually cut the total NHS budget by 20% over the next five years.
The news follows the revelation, in a separate review carried out by the Liberal Democrats, that the NHS had been hit by a further £650mn of "secret cuts". These cuts were made by passing the burden for pension funding from the government to the NHS, reducing the amount of money available to fund front-line services.
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