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  1. ITV Report

Taxpayers will contribute ‘a bit more’ for NHS funding boost, Prime Minister Theresa May announces

Taxpayers will need to contribute "a bit more" in order to support a £20.5 billion-a-year boost to the NHS budget, Theresa May has announced.

Speaking on Monday, the Prime Minister set out the five-year budget settlement to mark the 70th anniversary of the health service, as well as setting out some of the NHS' goals for the next 10 years, saying that it was "the Government's number one spending priority".

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  • Where will the money come from?

The Prime Minister said that “fair and balanced” tax rises would contribute to the extra money needed for the funding boost.

Speaking in London, Mrs May insisted the Government would take a “responsible” approach to the plan, which will see an extra £394 million a week going to the NHS in 2023/24.

The Prime Minister did not give details on where these taxes would come from, and how much the increase would be.

It is thought more details will be announced in the Autumn Budget.

She repeated her claim that part of the increase will be funded by a “Brexit dividend” – a suggestion which has been widely attacked as unrealistic, even by some Conservatives.

  • What else did Mrs May talk about?

The Maidenhead MP also spoke about the Government's goals for the NHS which would require "every penny be well spent" by using more efficient systems and cutting back on bureaucracy, amongst other things.

Highlighting excellence within the NHS - such as the Royal Marsden which is one of the top four cancer centres in the world - Mrs May said "at its best the NHS is world class", adding that the extra funding long-term plan would make this high standard of care uniform across the country.

She continued that those responsible for poor performance would "be held to account".

During the speech, Mrs May even quoted Aneurin Bevan who was Labour Health Minister when the NHS was born, saying that the NHS must provide "the same standard of care for everyone".

Mrs May continued that more needed to be done to deal with mental health issues, including better access to care, and also avoiding health issues before they became problematic - such as combating childhood obesity.

Spending on the NHS per person, in the UK. Credit: PA Graphics
  • Did Mrs May acknowledge that the NHS is facing problems?

During her speech at the Royal Free Hospital in London, Mrs May acknowledged that “despite more funding, more doctors and more nurses, and great progress on treatments, our NHS is under strain” as it copes with an ageing population and changing health challenges.

“We cannot continue to put a sticking plaster on the NHS budget each year,” she said.

Jeremy Hunt echoed the Prime Minister that taxes would need to be raised. Credit: Pool
  • What has the Health Secretary said?

Speaking earlier on Monday, the Health Secretary also confirmed that there would be "an increased burden of taxation" to gather the money needed.

Like Mrs May he also refused to be drawn on the taxation details, saying they would be held back until Mr Hammond’s Budget in November.

“We will be able to explain exactly where every penny is coming from but we will do that in the Budget,” said Mr Hunt, adding that it was "affordable".

Following the funding announcement, Mr Hunt said he wanted to see the NHS come up with "a really good 10-year plan" within the next six months.

“When we have that plan in November, we will say ‘This is a great plan, we accept that it is going to lead to improvements in cancer care and mental health and so on’.”

Speaking to ITV News, the Health Secretary continued that while the extra funding was a "significant amount", there would be no "immediate end to all the pressures on the front line".

He continued: "It's not going to mean that all the money worries vanish overnight because the fundamental problem that we have is a lack of capacity in the system, and to build up that capacity means training more doctors and more nurses."

During her speech the Prime Minister said there was no 'sticking plaster' for the NHS. Credit: PA
  • What about social care?

While the NHS will receive more money, this will not be spent on social care.

When the Health Secretary was asked how improvements to social care could be funded, he suggested that people make more of an effort to save moneyd: “We all need to make better provision for our own social care… than we do at the moment.

“We are going to have to find a way of making it easy for people to do the right thing and to save for the long term, to make additional contributions so we have that security we need in the social care system.

“There are numerous different ways we could do that, but we will put those choices to the British people and have that debate", including measures to encourage people to save more to cover needs in their old age.

  • What has the reaction from others been?

NHS England Chief Executive Simon Stevens has welcomed the money, saying "it represents a clear gear change in the amount of funding that will be available for the next five years, compared to what we have had over the last five years".

Asked if he believed the "Brexit dividend" would deliver enough money, Mr Stevens told MPs: "Both the Prime Minister and the Chancellor are crystal clear that this money will be available to the National Health Service over the next five years."

However, Labour were less welcoming of the announcement. Shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth said it was "not enough to save our NHS after eight years of Conservative austerity", and shadow chancellor John McDonnell said the Government’s plans were “just not credible” without further detail of how they would be funded.

Meanwhile, not all of Mrs May's Conservatives have welcomed the money. Chair of the Commons Health Committee Sarah Wollaston branded talk of a Brexit bonanza “tosh”.

Director of the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) Paul Johnson also said the so-called windfall from EU withdrawal would not materialise when the UK stopped paying more than £9 billion a year to Brussels due to the “divorce bill” of some £39 billion, and other economic factors.

Extra money will be given to the devolved governments. Credit: PA
  • What about the rest of the UK?

While the latest announcement only covers NHS England, money will also be given to the health services in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, although it is up to the devolved governments how this money is spent.

"The vision I have set out today, can benefit everyone," Mrs May said.