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A £30 BILLION cut in health and social care spending buried in Rishi Sunak’s bosses’ Budget was condemned today by unions, MPs and campaigners.
As the Chancellor’s written report revealed the planned slashing of day-to-day spending from £199.2 billion to £169.1bn from April, shadow chancellor Annelise Dodds said the Budget was “unravelling fast.”
If ministers fail to commit more funding for the health service, NHS England funding will fall from £147.7bn to £139.1bn from next year.
Ms Dodds said: “After a year when our key worker heroes kept the country going, it’s incredible that the Chancellor couldn’t find a penny more for our schools and hospitals.
“Instead we got a whopping £30.1bn cut in day-to-day health spending in future years, when the NHS will be struggling with the post-Covid backlog.
“But this Chancellor has the wrong priorities and is totally out of touch with what this country needs. This Budget was a test of character for Rishi Sunak. He failed it.”
Pascale Robinson, campaigns officer at campaign group We Own It said: “The government is happy to splash the cash when it can hand giant contracts to private companies and friends of the Conservative Party, but it won’t give our NHS the funding it desperately needs.
“The government should reverse this jaw-dropping cut immediately, and fund the future of our NHS and the health of the nation.”
Shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth accused Mr Sunak of failing “patients, our NHS and its staff,” as Labour analysis found that the number of patients waiting longer than 18 weeks for treatment has increased by more than 500 per cent over the last decade.
The Chancellor also prompted criticism after he admitted that the government still has no plan to rescue the floundering social care sector, despite the Prime Minister’s assertion otherwise.
Mr Sunak was asked on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme why there was no mention of social care in his financial statement, and he replied that the government was “committed” to finding a cross-party solution.
In July 2019, Boris Johnson used his first speech as Tory premier to say “we will fix the crisis in social care once and for all with a clear plan we have prepared to give every older person the dignity and security they deserve.”
Christina McAnea, general secretary of health and care workers’ union Unison, said: “Rishi Sunak’s admission that there’s no plan for social care reform is a damning indictment of the government’s repeated failure to come up with a solution for a sector in crisis.
“Care home residents, their families and care workers who’ve been through the trauma of the last year will feel angry and disappointed at the complete absence of a plan.
“Ministers need to get a grip of this issue now. The elderly and the vulnerable, and the staff who’ve put their health on the line to care for them, deserve nothing less.”
Labour’s shadow minister for social care, Liz Kendall, said the government had not “discussed or even raised” with the opposition its plans to build a cross-party consensus.
She said: “There was nothing in the Budget on social care, despite everything that has happened during this pandemic and the Prime Minister’s promise on the steps of Downing Street to fix the crisis in social care more than 18 months ago.”
Age UK said the government had “spurned” the opportunity to help small care companies, despite warnings about their sustainability.
Charity director Caroline Abrahams said: “The result may well be an upsurge in closures over the next few months, putting more stress and strain on older and disabled people and their unpaid carers, who have already endured so much.”
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