Tory NHS pledge is ‘fantasy funding’


Jeremy Hunt: The Coalition’s Health Secretary won’t face up to his failures.

The Conservative Party must be getting very desperate indeed.

Faced with the failure of the plan to belittle Ed Miliband, the Tories are making a belated attempt to take some of Labour’s policy ground with a promise to provide £8 billion extra, every year, for the NHS.

From where?

The Conservatives have already told us they will be squeezing the economy by (at least) £30 billion over the next five years – if they remain in office. The National Health Service is ring-fenced from those cuts, we are told, but that hasn’t prevented real-terms funding from falling during most – if not all – of the Parliament that has just ended.

The Tories had no intention of adding funds to the NHS – or at least, they didn’t until today.

Despite claims that the health service in England alone needs another £8 billion in order to cope (the shortfall is £30 billion but NHS boss Simon Stevens reckons “efficiency savings” – cuts – will cover £22 billion of it), the Conservative Party had been hoping to keep it quiet and let the public service quietly starve while private, profit-making firms strip it of its most lucrative sources of funding; the services that attract the most money.

Like the plan to attack Miliband, this was a mistake; Labour has campaigned forthrightly on the needs of the NHS and the public has responded strongly.

So the Tories have wheeled out Jeremy ‘Misprint’ Hunt to announce a funding commitment that they don’t have the ability to honour.

It is exactly the kind of fiscal ineptitude of which they were accusing Labour, before the other party publicised its fully-funded plans for government.

Asked how the Conservatives would fund the pledge, Mr Hunt said the economy had been turned around and pointed to investment in the service during the last Parliament, when the government guaranteed an above-inflation increase in funding, according to the BBC.

He said: “If you want to be sceptical about the commitment, look at the track record.”

Okay, let’s do that: Look at this table, from the UK Statistics Authority’s monitoring review paper, Real Terms Estimates for Health Expenditure in England over the Spending Review Period, 2010-11 to 2014-15, as published in Vox Political‘s article on funding last year. It shows known spending, according to the most up-to-date statistics available at the time (June 19, 2013), along with estimates for the remainder of the current Parliament.


The rows relating to changes in spending are all minus figures – meaning spending was less than intended, not more.

Mr Hunt also lied: “We inherited an economy that was shrinking and we’ve turned it around.” In fact, the Coalition Government took over an economy that was expanding, thanks to the stimulus budgets of Labour’s Alistair Darling, and killed it stone dead with the unnecessary, ideologically-motivated policy of austerity.

It seems likely the only reason the economy started improving at all is simply that it reached the bottom of its cycle and there was nowhere to go but up; this would have been nothing to do with the Conservatives or the Coalition.

What we’re seeing is fantasy funding – building castles – or rather, hospitals – in the air.

Judging the Tories on their record, they certainly won’t be improving health here on the ground.

18 thoughts on “Tory NHS pledge is ‘fantasy funding’

  1. M de Mowbray

    Does extra Tory ‘”funding” for the NHS mean that the NHS will get the extra funds? Or does it mean “more funds will go to drafting contracts and changing law in order to fully Privatise NHS”?

    The Orwellian double-talk that has so totally characterised CaMoron’s Cronies is BOUND to be at play in this announcement, from a regime that always does the opposite of what it claims in public.

    1. John Gaines

      Phillip Wale:
      Labour will undo Britain’s recovery from the financial crisis –

      We say that, if a Government cannot meet the needs of the majority of the people, it is a failed Government: this pair of criminals, Gideon the stats fixer and (The Sun) kiss ass Dave, cost Britain £2.5Bn when blackmailed by the EU/IMF over their criminal abuse of forged statistics to conceal the fact that the Economy is a bust, these rogues have thus failed.

  2. Jim Round

    The NHS changes every year.
    It’s time politicians of all stripes stopped using it (and education and a host of other things) as a political football and get it fit for the 21st Century and beyond.
    It does need re-organising, just not in the way the Tories tried.
    It also won’t be solved by throwing billions at it, the structure needs changing.
    The NHS in Powys will obvuously be different to the NHS in Cardiff.
    Yes, it does a fantastic job considering the mud slung at it on a daily basis, but it doesn’t mean there isn’t room for improvement.

  3. joanna may

    He knows a lot of British people are crazy enough to swallow their lies, because why oh why do they get in time and time again!?! Thatcher decimated huge industry without putting in any kind of replacement or buffer, yep they got in again!! When are people going to learn that the tories are against fairness, equality and humanity, except for themselves!!!

    A lib dem put a leaflet through my door yesterday, despite having a sticker saying “no leaflets”. I took it out to her and asked if she could read, she got defensive and said don’t you want it? I told her I do not have any time for liars and left with her leaflet and her red-faced! Yes result!!!!

      1. joanna may

        I know technically that is true, but they have had power over us for 5 years of Hell. The lib dems don’t count to me, they are just yellow-bellies

  4. Florence

    I thought (based on Indy, Graun etc) that the increase was UP TO £8 billion BY 2020. It’s easy for the short-format headline to hide a multitude of sins. Especially Tory lies / sins, as you point out it’s “fantasy funding”. Osborne has also said (in response to the OBR? IFS?) that they were planning to be able to meet these funding gaps for increased spend by selling off the govt holdings in the banks in 2017-18. That is part of the funding for NHS in those years. So another element of fantasy funding is that as they have no expectation for growth to actually provide a surplus, a bit more of the national holdings to be flogged off to their mates, again, to provide another cycle of Tory boom and bust (& bust & bust).

  5. Rupert Mitchell (@rupert_rrl)

    Indeed the Tories must be getting desperate and, as before, they will promise almost anything in order to be re-elected. They made promises before which were not kept so I remind friends of the old adage: “Fool me once shame on you. Fool me twice shame on me!”

    I place my faith in Ed for the leader with the least imperfections and most hopeful and positive policies for the benefit of all. Sorry I had better correct that; excluding dodgy bankers and super rich with off-shore evasive tax accounts.

  6. Timro

    Heck! No problem to fund a further £8 Bn on the NHS simply cut working-age benefits by the same amount, i.e., by £20 Bn rather than the £12 Bn planned! It’ll “get people into work” and “save the tax payer money”. Win-win.Easy peasy! Done and dusted.

      1. Timro

        Although the Tories seem clueless about where welfare cuts will happen as they’ve “done it before”, apparently they can “do it again”. Try telling that to somebody who wants to make a living donation of a kidney to a loved one, but has already done this once before in the past and only has one kidney left. You can’t, simply can’t, keep cutting welfare in order to make savings. I find it ridiculous that the Conservatives keep saying that they can.

  7. foggy

    Mike, this is on LabourList;

    Interviewer: We do know at least where the Labour Party is planning to get the money from – tax avoidance and mansion tax – we can see that in black and white, rather than just hoping that money appears?

    JH: Well ..what they can’t commit to is .. um .. generating money from the NHS from a growing economy because they want to tear up the economic plan.

    Jeremy Hunt, Sky News, Saturday 11th April 2015

    Since when did the NHS generate money ??
    Does ‘generating money from the NHS’ mean there will be charges ??

    I may be reading too much into the above quote by JH, and if the quote is correct I dread to think what the tories ‘real’ plan is 🙁

  8. hstorm

    Osborne failed to answer the question today on the Marr Show too.

    They genuinely could just QE the funds to do it – it is an entirely legitimate way to do it (and technically-speaking it’s the only way to do it, as in real terms taxes are merely ‘cancelled’ money, not Government funding), but of course the Tories can never say that. The moment they acknowledge that public funding is done like that, it will completely destroy what rational basis there is for Austerity – which is tiny enough anyway.

  9. edlear30

    I’ve just been reading the MQ report that was sent to me, and after reading it I was wondering where you stood in terms of party candidate policies in the election, and which party would offer the most on the issues raised in the report?

    Several charity organisations such has MIND and SANE have produced campaign election manifestos, and I’d recently seen the Tories’ pledge to commit £8 billion to the NHS which, along with the LibDems policy on mental health, I think is fairly arbitrary, but I’m not sure that these key points address this the issues in the report. Nor do I believe talking therapies or Mindfulness therapies make a serious improvement to people’s lives, especially since the MQ report clearly shows there’s no research funding into mental illness or treatments for this.

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