Mr Miliband…Will You Fund The NHS?…..”Hell Yes!!!….Well…em…er Maybe….”

Empty handed promises



Labour’s plans to fund the NHS are just as speculative and based upon guesswork, or ‘projections’, as the Tories and yet the BBC only targets the Tory plans and relentlessly insists that they are unfunded promises whilst Labour’s are models of financial probity….apparentlyLabour is sticking to its £2.5bn plan which it says is fully and robustly funded.’

But is that true?  Miliband has said that he will fund the NHS with ‘whatever is necessary’, his Shadow Health Minister has said that Labour will ‘Do whatever it takes’.…..remind me…which part of the economic’s syllabus did those two equations come under?

Let’s have a look at the BBC’s reporting of this issue in detail……

There will be a funding gap in the NHS, a figure accepted by all Parties, of £30 bn by 2020….How to close that gap?….£22 bn will be found by making efficiency savings in the NHS, but who will fund the remaining £8 bn and how?

From the NHS review that sets out the future shape of the NHS and how much it will cost….

In order to provide the comprehensive and high quality care the people of England clearly want, Monitor, NHS England and independent analysts have previously calculated that a combination of growing demand if met by no further annual efficiencies and flat real terms funding would produce a mismatch between resources and patient needs of nearly £30 billion a year by 2020/21. So to sustain a comprehensive high-quality NHS, action will be needed on all three fronts – demand, efficiency and funding. Less impact on any one of them will require compensating action on the other two.


Battle has been joined and the dividing lines drawn up…the Tories say they will increase NHS funding by over £8 bn a year by 2020 funded by growth in the economy and Labour says it will raise £2.5 billion from a Mansion tax, a levy on Tobacco companies and a crackdown on tax avoidance….but refuses to commit to funding the remaining £5.5 bn necessary to fill that gap in NHS spending.

The BBC has been investigating the issues…well, sort of.  They conclude that Labour have made credible and clear spending commitments but that the Tories in contrast have made unfunded promises on the NHS which aren’t based on any realistic plans.

The BBC isn’t bothering to fact check Labour’s claims…apparently just saying you will raise ‘x’ amount from ‘y’ is sufficient evidence that Labour has it all worked out and that such plans are totally credible….and never mind the missing £5.5 bn to deliver ‘a comprehensive high-quality NHS‘.

Tory Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, was interviewed on the Today programme by Mishal Husain and stated that economic growth would fund the NHS’ needs.  Husain was utterly determined to ignore that and dismiss it as worthless promises refusing to accept that economic growth was an acceptable measure to base any promise upon…..Dover Sentry in the comments spotted an almost exact replay of the interview later on in which the BBC interviewer later claimed that Hunt must be making it up as he went along…so no bias there…..Has the BBC got a script for ‘tackling’ Hunt?  It would seem so….the two interviews seem very much the same, almost word for word in many respects.

Whilst the BBC dismisses the basis for the Tory funding the NHS’ ‘Forward View’ report that argues the case for the extra £30 bn states…

Delivering on the transformational changes set out in this
Forward View and the resulting annual efficiencies could – if matched
by staged funding increases as the economy allows – close the £30
billion gap by 2020/21. Decisions on these options will be for the next
Parliament and government, and will need to be updated and adjusted
over the course of the five year period. However nothing in the
analysis above suggests that continuing with a comprehensive taxfunded
NHS is intrinsically un-doable.

So ‘as the economy allows’...sounds a lot like ‘if we have economic growth’ doesn’t it?


What does Sky News say?

Sky’s Health Correspondent Thomas Moore said the Conservative commitment to fund the NHS is no more or less unfunded than Labour’s.

What?  Never heard that on the BBC…can’t be true surely.  We’ll have to look at what Labour says to find out won’t we…and save the BBC the trouble of doing so.

First though let’s have a look at some of the BBC’s reporting on this…here’s Hugh Pym telling us about ‘The £8bn NHS political row’.

The LibDems seem to get a bye on their promise to fund the NHS mostly with the proceeds of that elusive ‘economic growth’…

The Liberal Democrats said a little while ago they would find the £8bn if they were in office.

Some of this would be funded by identified tax measures, but the bulk of it would, in the words of Nick Clegg, come from the “proceeds of growth”.

In other words the Lib Dems assume they will find the money if the economy is growing normally in the years leading up to 2020.

No arm waving denouncements and exclamations of incredulity from the BBC there.  But what of the Tories?…He says…

Now, after skirting around the subject and dropping various hints, the Conservatives say they will as a manifesto pledge commit to finding the £8bn in real terms in 2020.

Actually it will be “at least” £8bn and could be more, according to party sources.

There are no revenue-raising plans linked to this plan.

Er..hang on….the Tories have stated quite clearly that economic growth will fund the extra money for the NHS….here’s Osborne making the point about a strong economy paying for the NHS…

I can confirm that in the Conservative manifesto next week we will commit to a minimum real-terms increase in NHS funding of £8bn in the next five years.

We can make this commitment because we’ve got the track record and a plan to grow our economy.  In the next parliament we will continue with the same balanced approach.

Those who urged us to cut the NHS also fail to understand the most important thing of all – all of this is only possible because of a strong economy. Harm the economy with higher taxes and higher debts, and not only do you put millions of jobs at risk: you undermine the NHS and all the vital public services that a strong economy pays for.

Pym then gives us Labour’s promise…but does not expand on Labour’s  missing £5.5 bn needed to reach the required £8 bn to fund a quality NHS….

So where does that leave Labour? Unlike the other main parties it has not signed up to the Stevens financial numbers.

Labour points out it has specific tax-raising plans, including the mansion tax, which cover this spending commitment.

So whilst the Tories’ plans are ‘unfunded’ the BBC tells us that Labour’s are credible despite the fact that they don’t actually say how they will plug that spending gap.

In another BBC article there is the claim that..

Ed Miliband has resisted the temptation to say he would do whatever it takes to find the cash to match the Conservative’s £8bn NHS pledge, arguing that it is unfunded.

But that’s not true…as Sky reports Miliband said….

When pressed on whether he could commit Labour to matching the Tories’ £8bn figure, he appeared to decline to do so. “We will always do what is necessary for the NHS. We will never let the NHS down,” he said.

And that is backed up by a statement made by Labour’s Shadow Health Minister, Liz kendall, who stated on the Today programme that…

“We will do whatever it takes to get the NHS the money its needs”

…before adding…

 “We do not think it is right to make fantasy funding promises… from a Tory party that is quite frankly panicking at the moment because it’s not got any clear vision for the country or the NHS”.

‘Whatever it takes’ doesn’t sound too rigorously worked out does it?  Sounds sort of like a fantasy funding promise doesn’t it?  Still, the BBC didn’t notice and keep on reporting that Labour has solved the NHS funding problem.

Maybe they have solved it by actually deciding to cut funding….what did Burnham say in 2010 (along with promises to privatise the NHS when commercial services were more efficient than public ones)?….

Curb NHS spending pledge to save other services, says Andy Burnham

Burnham said: “I am putting the ball right back in [Osborne’s] court. It is irresponsible to increase NHS spending in real terms within the overall financial envelope that he, as chancellor, is setting.


Have a listen to the interview with Kendall, Justin Webb is feeding her cues to lay into the Coalition which she misses  repeatedly….it’s hilarious as he gets more and more exasperated at her stupidity.

Webb starts by making the claim that mid-wifery is in trouble because of the ‘growth in the birthrate’…no inkling as to the cause of that?

Webb doesn’t disagree with much, if anything, that Kendall says…she talks of the costs of medical negligence and Webb says that is a reasonable point to make, when she says the Tories haven’t said where they will get funding from Webb agrees.

He then tries to get her to say that it is irresponsible to promise more funding without saying where it will come from. …a cue to have another go at the Tories.  Kendall misses the point altogether and strangely claims she has never said that…having just lambasted the Tories for doing so allegedly.

Webb asks her if Labour will match the Tory pledge…she says no….the Tories are engaged in ‘fantasy funding’….and after much toing and froing Webb says ‘I’m not asking where the money would come from…’

er…isn’t that the whole point of the interview?  Isn’t that the whole basis of the attack on the Tories?  And yet Webb isn’t interested in where Labour will get its funding from!  Apparently the source will be ‘whatever it takes’…remind me…just which Bank is that?

Anyway…back to the real world…..

What was the King’s Fund response to Burnham’s more recent response to the NHS review that said it would need that extra £8 bn?…from the 27th January 2015…..

The elephant in the room is how this will be paid for. Labour has not yet committed to finding the additional £8 billion identified in the NHS five year forward view as being needed to close the NHS funding gap by 2020. While Burnham’s plans to improve social care and increase the pay of care workers are very welcome, they will come with a hefty price tag, which Labour will need to balance with its commitment to reduce the deficit.‘The challenge for the Labour Party is to demonstrate how it will provide the funding to implement such a positive vision of the future.’


So let’s get that clear….Burnham pledges to improve the NHS in line with an ‘ambitious’ 10 year plan that Labour hasn’t funded despite it necessarily having a ‘hefty price tag’, and Labour hasn’t come up with any plan to do so….that ‘elephant in the room’.

And yet the BBC are relentlessly attacking the Tories for making ‘unfunded’ promises.

What of  Labour’s actual funding sources…the Mansion Tax, a levy on tobacco and a crackdown on tax avoidance…just how credible are they?

Let’s start with tax avoidance, we can dismiss the tobacco levy as that will  raise a measily £150 million…the BBC is always quick to criticise the Coalition for making over ambitious claims about how much money it would raise from tackling tax avoiders with Swiss bank accounts and yet it accepts Labour’s claims that it will raise £1.1 bn from such measures…..what do the tax experts say?....

Doubt surrounds the funding of the Labour leader’s flagship NHS policy as finance experts question the lack of detail and potential “unintended consequences” in his plan to close tax loopholes to pay for it.

Regina Borromeo, a money manager at Brandywine Global Investment Management LLC, told Bloomberg it was difficult to know how to react to Miliband’s stance on Eurobonds as it “could be just political posturing”.

“With the UK elections approaching, this type of statement adds to concerns of more political headlines to come that could affect the bond market,” she added.

Miliband also plans to scrap a tax relief for hedge funds that exempts them from stamp duty when they transfer shares to an intermediary, such as a broker, as part of a financial transaction.

But it isn’t just hedge funds who use this exemption. Pension funds, financial institutions and ordinary investors also benefit from the relief, the abolition of which threatens to disrupt and penalise the savings of ordinary consumers.

“The real stinger is that it would indirectly hit UK pensioners whose pension funds invest into hedge funds.”

Not much confidence there….political posturing from Miliband that provides little detail and will have unintended consequences…and may well hit pensioners and the economy badly.


What of the Mansion Tax? It will possibly raise only £1.2 bn and again there’s not much confidence that it will work or that it is any where near the best scheme to raise money in that manner….the BBC report that the IFS said….

The idea was misdirected.

“Rather than adding a mansion tax on top of an unreformed and deficient council tax, it would be better to reform council tax itself to make it proportional to current property values,” the IFS report said.


Labour’s own Lord Mandelson doesn’t like it…

Lord Mandelson has launched a blistering attack on Labour’s flagship mansion tax policy, describing it as “crude” and “short-termist”.

In what will be seen as yet another criticism of Ed Miliband’s leadership by one of the architects of New Labour, he suggested the idea for a tax on properties worth more than £2m was not thought through and unsophisticated.


Legal and financial experts don’t like it and think it is far too complex and likely to lead to huge costs and delays.

The Spectator has a look and isn’t impressed…..

How mansion taxes will make us all poorer


So let’s recap….the tax avoidance measures are unlikely to raise anything like Labour promises, the tobacco levy is small beer and the Mansion Tax is probably unworkable and Labour has only promised to fund £2.5 bn of the necessary £8 bn to keep the NHS going….though Miliband makes the ‘unfunded’ promise that he will do whatever is necessary for the NHS….and the King’s Fund says Labour’s plans are themselves unfunded promises.

And yet the BBC still insists that Labour have provided us with a comprehensive funding solution that sets out how they will pay for their largesse despite, as the BBC’s Hugh Pym admits….

In the end £8bn could prove too small a government top-up for the NHS.

If £8 bn is too small what price £2.5 billion that Labour thinks is adequate?  Where is the BBC question mark over  that?


Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to Mr Miliband…Will You Fund The NHS?…..”Hell Yes!!!….Well…em…er Maybe….”

  1. Guest Who says:

    Posted this on the open thread. Hope it’ s OK to port here as a better Location…

    BBC host asks Jeremy Hunt “Do you make this stuff up as you go along?” over £8bn for the NHS:

    Interesting precedent. Hunt not the sharpest tool in the box, but one might wonder if Mishal is quite consistent with withering commentary so eagerly picked up upon by complementary media.

    Maybe we’ll see Andrew Marr sink his teeth into George Osbourne’s arm, screaming ‘Die, capitalist lackey’?

    Ed & Ed were unavailable for sensible comment. Saves the BBC any awkwardness, professionally.

    Not far off securing the licence fee now, guys ‘n gals.


  2. noggin says:

    22bn of erm … “efficiency saving s” ?
    laughable, it it wasn t so serious


  3. Leha says:

    The NHS is a complete money pit with politicians falling over themselves to throw gazillions of taxpayer pounds at it. The Health Service black hole will gobble this up and still come back asking for more. What the NHS NEEDS is top down root and branch reform and proper accountability. The envy of the world? – pah!


    • Deborah says:

      I was just thinking the same – there are huge wastes in the NHS from sending out by post new appointment times that have changed by 10 minutes (and how often does one go into an appointment at the right time?) to unnecessary tests, unnecessary treatments, to treatments that extend poor quality life by 2 weeks etc. However every administrator wants to justify their job and every doctor feels duty bound to do everything possible etc and hence the cost of the NHS grows and grows. And I haven’t even mentioned the growing number of people the NHS is having to treat due to life expectancy, birth rate and the elephants in the room.


  4. Old Geezer says:

    It would be interesting to know how much of our money goes straight out of the NHS budget, into the pockets of foreign bankers and financiers, thanks to Brown’s stupidity with PFIs. The people who labour claim to despise are getting fat on our taxes, due to Labour stupidity.


  5. DickMart says:

    There is a further point on the mansion tax as a source for NHS funding on which BBC interviewers might have challenged Labour. This money would not be available from day one. The whole process of getting the primary legislation through Parliament, setting up the administrative machinery and carrying out valuations etc would inevitably take some time: I would imagine at least a couple of years and quite possibly longer.

    Incompetent, or blinkered by pro-Labour bias?


  6. taylor says:

    All pie in the sky stuff-with perhaps the Conservatives just showing a little more sense as they have a better understanding of the financial implications of the gathering of such investment (which still won’t stop the b;eeding) will stretch the budget to breaking point-be aware public, an increas in austerity will come about in order to pay for the NHS-I ask is it worth saving under its present structure?


  7. Doublethinker says:

    Whether money spent on the NHS is value for money is a debate that is worth having. However, I want to make a point about PM on Saturday in which the Tory announcement on the NHS was commented on as ‘ finding £8 billion down the back of the sofa’ and the presenter was almost cracking up with laughter when commentating on where the funding was coming from. This is marked contrast to any Labour announcement which is reliant for funding on future growth of the economy. On these occasions the BBC dutifully and solemnly allows the Labour spokesman/women to tell us how great the policy will be for us without ever questioning how an anti busines,s Marxist, Milibandit government is going to be so good for growth, and certainly never so much as a half smile passes their lips.
    The level of bias is becoming increasingly outrageous.


  8. Mark says:

    “Labour founded the NHS ” is the current “Mussolini made the trains run on time”.

    A system founded on 1940s needs can no longer be merely tweaked to cater for 2010s needs.


  9. Brad Goulson says:

    Please sign this petition to abolish the TV licence. Over 102,000 have already signed in a week.

    Please use Facebook etc. to pass it on.


  10. Sir Arthur Strebe-Grebling says:

    Any sensible journalist (not employed by the bBBC, obviously) would be investigating not the £8bn but the £22bn. The head of NHS England says they can find £22bn of ‘efficiency savings’; in other words, he knows that they are wasting 20% of their budget. The Labour government (1997-2010) gave the NHS so much money that they didn’t know how to spend it properly. Now Labour and the bBBC are challenging the other parties to waste even more on the bloated Nationalised Death Service.


  11. I Can See Clearly Now says:

    The BBC figures on midwives are (deliberately?) rambling, but best guess:

    Labour will recruit 3,000 more, on top of adding enough to guarantee a one-to-service. This will add to what the Coalition has already done:

    A Conservative spokesman said management cuts and increased efficiency had allowed the coalition to recruit more than 2,100 midwives.

    “Since 2012, we have been investing and training 2,500 midwives every year to ensure that future mothers have a named midwife overseeing their care,” he said.

    My reading is that the coalition added an exta 2,100 over the past five years.

    So thousands of extra midwives and no mention of immigration. Biased BBC!

    The extras are interesting, but maybe the one-to-one promise is more so. What are the odds that Labour’s proposed one-to-one pool will usefully act as contingency for immigration/birth-rate getting out of control in the next few years. They’ll be well placed to cope by dropping the one-to-one promise, with no embarrassing emergency measures required.