Labour attacks Treasury's secret NHS budget clawback

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NHS Logo over Westminster
Labour says the government have taken an extra £500 million out of the NHS budget. Photo: ITV News

On the day the Government is accused of trying to bury the bad headlines from the Budget with a statement on alcohol pricing, another Budget story is breaking tonight.

Labour claim figures in the Budget book show that £500 million has been taken out of the NHS budget this year.

Government sources have now confirmed the figures.

The Department of Health says £900 million was saved across the NHS this year through more efficient operations and an underspend on capital projects and IT.

Under government rules they have to give a proportion of any underspend back to the Treasury - in this case it comes to £500 million.

The remaining £400 million has been rolled into next year's budget.

Lansley, Cameron and Clegg in a hospital.
The government previously insisted any underspend, or saving made by trusts, would be reinvested into the NHS. Credit: REUTERS/Lefteris Pitarakis/

The claim is damaging because the Prime Minister and Chancellor have previously insisted any underspend would be reinvested in the health service.

These figures show that is only partially true.

However a source close to the Health Secretary said tonight the Government has still honoured its promise to increase total spending on health which has been at the centre of so many arguments between Labour and the coalition in recent months.