Chancellor’s budget to build up Brexit reserves, not tackle NHS crisis

Phillip Hammond is expected to use Wednesday’s budget to announce that tax revenues will be used to build up a reserve to deal with uncertainties arising from Brexit, rather than increase spending on the health service.

The chancellor has indicated that some extra money will be allocated for social care. The shadow chancellor, John McDonnell, has warned that £12bn should be immediately redirected to the NHS, warning that “the crisis is happening now”.

The government has announced the allocation of more than £500m from the National Productivity Investment Fund (NPIF) to help Britain’s innovators.

The money is part of a £23bn pledge first made in the autumn statement. Of this money, £270m will go to universities and businesses that are developing artificial intelligence, batteries for electric cars or manufacturing medicines. Another £90m will go to fund 1,000 PhD places while £200m will support research fellowships.

He is expected to raise funds through some tax increases, including one imposed on self-employed workers through a change to national insurance rates. Hammond is also thought to be looking at increases in alcohol duty.

Appearing on the BBC1’s the Andrew Marr Show on Sunday, the chancellor warned there would be no major “spending sprees”. Instead, the UK would be prepared to “fight back” and “not slink off into the corner” if a trade deal with the EU could be reached, and would do “whatever it takes” to rebuild the British economy.

Full story in The Guardian, 6 March 2017