18

According to a speech given by Boris Johnson on 2nd September 2019, there are plans for "an extra 34 billion going into the NHS".

What does "going into" mean in this context? Given that the annual funding for the NHS is somewhere around 130 billion, adding 34 billion to that would be a surprisingly enormous change (and thus, maybe not what he meant).

All I could find was previous statements about increasing annual funding by the much smaller amount of 1.8 billion.

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    What he hasn't said is how it will be paid for ... higher taxes? Cuts elsewhere? Increasing the deficit? Import duties once we leave the EU? Anyway, it's just a plan that can be revised or scrapped if he gets elected. Seriously, this money is needed because of an ageing population. It really ought to be a matter for a cross-party committee, not used as electoral ammunition. Not that the other parties are any better. We need a better class of politician! – nigel222 Sep 4 '19 at 8:36
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    This claim is probably as trustworthy as the one Farage did 3 years ago. – Eric Duminil Sep 4 '19 at 11:16
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The statement is quite nebulous (hey, its coming from a politician), but Boris Johnson isn't the first government politician to float the figure:

Because we value the NHS so much, the new £20.5 billion funding settlement announced by the Prime Minister in June provides the NHS with funding growth of 3.4% a year in real terms over the next five years. This means the NHS’s budget will increase in cash terms by £33.9 billion, rising from £115 billion this year to £121 billion next year, £127 billion in 2020-21, £133 billion in 2021-22, £140 billion in 2022-23 and £148 billion in 2023-24.

(emphasis mine)

Baroness Manzoor - 7th January 2019

The £1.8 billion funding is in addition to the extra £33.9 billion, in cash terms, the NHS is set to receive every year by 2023/24 through the Long Term Plan agreed last year. Over £1 billion of this will be spent this year, meaning an annual increase in the NHS’s capital budget of 30%.

Published 5 August 2019 - gov.uk (This would have been under Boris Johnson as PM, but I am leaving it here to indicate that the recent speech was not his governments first use of the amount).

In essence, its a cumulative increase in spending over the period, with the increases year on year adding up to the £33.9Billion figure.

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  • "In cash terms" - that sounds like a qualifier. Can you explain what this means? – einpoklum Sep 4 '19 at 8:43
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    To be clear, the £33.9 billion are part of the NHS Long Term Plan which was announced in June of 2018 and launched early 2019. Boris Johnson has nothing to do with it, he's just trying to leverage that for the upcoming general election. – jcaron Sep 4 '19 at 9:50
  • @einpoklum i.e. not allowing for inflation. In 2023, it's almost certain that £1 will pay for less than it would now. – FLHerne Sep 4 '19 at 13:23
15

It means exactly what the words say. There is a plan. Plans don't cost anything much to produce. All you need is a computer running MS Office, and in half an hour you are done.

Whether the plan will ever be delivered is a different question.

But of course the political point is that the opposition now have a few bad options and no good ones:

  1. Ignore the plan, and be branded as the party that only pretends to care about the NHS.
  2. Go down the rabbit hole of trying to argue against the details, when nobody in the electorate cares about details.
  3. Come up with a plan to spend even more money on the NHS, and be branded as being the same old fiscally irresponsible "tax and spend party" that Labour have been for the last 30 or 40 years.
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    Is that plan published somewhere? Or is it only referenced in the speech from 2nd September? – Kai Daniel Sep 2 '19 at 23:28
  • Don't forget to calculate how much that will be in US Dollars or Euro or Swiss Francs or Polish Zloty per the current Exchange rate compared to the old NHS funding on pre-Brexit Exchange rate. That would be something for the LibDems. – Alexander Sep 4 '19 at 9:31
  • I think the question was asking what is meant by the plan itself, not what is meant by the word "plan" in this context (i.e. see the other answer). – JBentley Sep 4 '19 at 13:21

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