There was no new money for the NHS or social care announced in the autumn statement on 23 November 2016, despite warnings from the NHS and local government that services are at breaking point and evidence that a crisis in social services is heightening pressure on an already overburdened NHS.
UK chancellor Philip Hammond told the House of Commons that “departmental spending plans set out in the spending review last autumn will remain in place”.
“The government will review public spending priorities and other commitments for the next Parliament in light of the evolving fiscal position at the next spending review,” he said.
Commenting on the statement, Richard Murray, director of policy at the charity The King’s Fund, says: “The absence of new money for health or social care means that the already intense pressures on services will continue to grow. The lack of extra money for social care funding, in particular, means we are likely to see an already threadbare safety net stretched even more thinly.
“The government will also need to look again at health funding in future,” he adds. “The planned increases in health spending are not enough to maintain standards of care, meet rising demand and transform services.”
Stephen Dalton, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, a membership body for organisations that commission and provide NHS services, says: “The Treasury has missed a golden opportunity to ease the strain on the NHS. While the government is right to review long-term spending plans, social care services are in crisis right now. Our staff delivering services on the frontline this winter will find it extraordinary that the Government has turned a blind eye to the stresses and strains being felt in the health and social care system.
Lord Porter, chair of the Local Government Association, also says social care services “are at breaking point”.
The thrust of the chancellor’s autumn statement was to prioritise additional high-value investment, specifically in infrastructure and innovation, that will directly contribute to raising Britain’s productivity.
Hammond confirmed additional investment in research and development, rising to an extra £2 billion per year by 2020–2021.
Mike Thompson, chief executive of the trade body the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry, comments: “The chancellor has given us an autumn statement that delivers for science and innovation and emphasises the importance of the UK pharmaceutical industry to the strength of our economy.”