Corbyn lashes out at ‘utter complacency’
JEREMY CORBYN accused the Chancellor yesterday of “utter complacency” over the state of the economy as he delivered a Budget that failed to address the NHS and social care crisis.
The Labour leader launched a searing attack on Philip Hammond as he outlined plans to invest just £2 billion more in social care over the next three years — far short of the £2.6bn a year the Local Government Association (LGA) says is needed to deal with the crisis.
The Chancellor plans to make £1bn of the cash available to local authorities immediately to allow them to “act now to bridge the gap” until money from the Better Care Fund becomes available. He said this would help the 24 councils he claimed were responsible for half of all delayed discharges from hospitals.
Mr Hammond claimed that the government’s controversial sustainability and transformation plans (STPs) would bring short and medium-term stability to the NHS, announcing £325 million to bring forward the implementation of a group of pilot STPs over the summer.
This would bring together the NHS and social care and bring an immediate benefit, Mr Hammond said as he repeated the disputed claim that the government is investing an additional £10bn in the NHS.
The Chancellor claimed that his vision, and the Tory Copeland by-election victory, was evidence that it was “the party of the NHS.”
However plans to cut a staggering £22bn from the NHS budget by 2020-21 remain in place and the STPs will see the biggest hospital closure programme in NHS history, with local health bosses battling desperately to balance the books.
NHS spending is one of the lowest in Europe, with the King’s Fund claiming that it could be £43bn less a year than the average spent by European countries by 2020. And social care funding has been slashed by an astonishing £4.6bn since 2010.
Shadow chancellor John McDonnell blasted: “Rather than provide the funding that would end a social care crisis in which one million vulnerable people go without adequate care or calling an end to the state of emergency in our NHS, the Tories are doing next to nothing and don’t seem to recognise the scale of the crisis they have created.”
TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said that while the additional funding for social care was “desperately needed … it’s astonishing that the government has left a huge hole in NHS funding.”
National Pensioners Convention general secretary Dot Gibson said the social care pledge was merely a “sticking plaster” on the crisis, doing nothing to reverse the £5bn cuts since 2010.
And Green Party leader Caroline Lucas slammed the government for “failing to end the chaos in health and social care” due to “their obsession with scaling back the state.
“Instead they continue to push ahead with planned corporation tax cuts, and their handout to high earners, while unveiling woefully inadequate funding changes for the NHS and social care.”
Communist Party general secretary Rob Griffiths tore into the Chancellor’s claims, pointing out that “most of the additional £2bn social care funding to local government will end up in private-sector coffers.”
Keep Our NHS public spokesman Alan Taman said the NHS and social care were in a “parlous state” due to seven years of the Tories.
“Two billion quid for social care sounds a fortune but it is on a par with starving someone for a month then offering them a bowl of cornflakes above what you’ve been giving them.”
Shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth said: “There was nothing in the Budget to help hospitals with the acute crisis they are facing now.
“This should have been a Budget that gave the NHS and social care sector the money it urgently needed. Instead, the Health Secretary has failed to support our overstretched NHS workforce and give patients the world-class health system they deserve.”