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It seems we owe thanks to Labour’s former deputy Prime Minister, John Prescott, for discovering a revealing accounting measure by the Coalition Government, meaning Chancellor George Osborne has yet again failed to cover his a**e.

According to Mr Prescott, figures from the House of Lords Library show the government spent £106 billion from National Insurance (NI) contributions last year – the benefit system received £85 billion and the NHS got £21 billion.

But he was “stunned” to find the Government last year held back nearly £30 billion.

“National ­Insurance money can only be used for the NHS or benefits,” Mr Prescott was quoted as saying. “So since he can’t spend it on anything else and chooses not to fund ­hospitals, the Chancellor lets it sit there.”

Mr Prescott recommended that the surplus should be used to help shore up a buckling NHS – but it seems clear that there is enough, not only to clear the health service’s debt but also to reverse all the devastating changes to the benefit system as well.

Let us hope a future Labour government remembers how to do the right thing.

Follow me on Twitter: @MidWalesMike

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