Johnson’s $47 Billion NHS Plan Resisted by Treasury: Times
(Bloomberg) -- U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s plan to reform health and social care by handing 34 billion pounds ($47 billion) to the National Health Service faces resistance from the Treasury, the Sunday Times reported.
Johnson’s cash boost is designed to kick-start a period of policy reforms, including a plan to cap the amount that people have to pay for their care at about 80,000 pounds. But the plans were stalled after the Treasury resisted calls for the extra funding, the newspaper said.
Johnson and Health Secretary Sajid Javid want to tackle a long backlog of hospital treatments by providing the health service with an extra 10 billion pounds annually for three years, coupled with a 3 billion to 4 billion-pound premium for the rest of this year.
Talks involving the pair and Chancellor Rishi Sunak have taken place this weekend, though sides remain “several billion pounds” apart and discussions will likely go to the wire, the newspaper cited a government source as saying.
“We’ll set out details on our long-term plan to reform the social-care system and resolve a decades-long issue in due course,” a government spokesperson said in response to a Bloomberg request for comment.
The deadlock comes amid reports that Johnson plans to fund the reforms by raising national insurance payments, a proposal that would break a key 2019 Conservative manifesto pledge. Sunak is also set to scrap the so-called triple lock on annual increases to the U.K. state pension as soon as next week in another break from previous election promises.
It’s part of a wider fiscal plan to repair public finances in the wake of the pandemic. Sunak is grappling with a budget deficit that ballooned to a peacetime high of over 14% of gross domestic product last fiscal year.
On Sunday, Vaccines Minister Nadhim Zahawi didn’t rule out plans to raise taxes to fund health and social care reforms in interviews with Sky and the BBC.
The government is “absolutely committed” to following through on the reforms and “will be coming forward by the end of the year with those details,” he told Sky News.
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