New figures from the King’s Fund, calculating the progress of funding for the NHS and social care since the banking crash of 2007-8 indicate how dramatically the brakes were applied from 2010 when David Cameron’s government embarked on a decade of austerity.
But it’s widely accepted that to cope with inflation, demographic change (a rising population and an increasing proportion of it in the more costly older age groups), technological change and other cost pressures real spending needs to increase by around 4% each year: and from 1958 to 2010 that was more or less the average (3.9%).
Since the Tory-led coalition took office in 2010, however, the rate of increase has remained consistently below this level, leading to a growing shortfall in funding, and this is set to continue.
Calculating from the King’s Fund figures we can see that had the Department of Health and Social Care received an annual increase of 4% from 2010, by 2021-22 – even allowing for inflation – its core budget would have been £180bn – £35bn higher than the actual figure, and just £11bn below the total spending including the £47bn Covid spending.
Full story in The Lowdown, 20 February 2022