Here’s a brief summary from the South West Academic Health Science Network on today’s budget.
As Labour leader Ed Miliband complained in his opening response to Chancellor George Osborne’s sixth budget: ‘There is no mention of investment in our NHS.’
So, the budget was light on detail about healthcare.
In fact, the single time the acronym ‘NHS’ appeared in the whole speech was –
‘Satisfaction with the NHS is rising year on year.’
This was immediately refuted on Twitter by the Health Service Journal but you can read the latest satisfaction data here (the satisfaction survey does not feature in the later 2014 version of this report).
However, the Chancellor did confirm that Greater Manchester’s £6 billion health budget will be devolved to the region which will be allowed to keep 100% of the additional growth in local business rates as the government builds up a ‘Northern Powerhouse’.
This is a significant change to the way health is funded in England. There is more information here
The Chancellor also confirmed an extra £1.25 billion to be spent on mental health services for children and new mums – helping more than 110,000 people. This had previously been announced by Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg.
Osborne also announced funding for more defibrillators in public places, including schools.
He did praise the NHS when he said: ‘Quality of public services has gone up. Satisfaction with the NHS is raising year on year.’
There was good news for our region –
- £7bn to be invested in South West transport, including a new rail franchise
- Plymouth is to become an ‘enterprise zone’
- Cider tax is to drop 2% – ‘good news for Westcountry producers’ as Osborne put it
- And for our older population it was announced pension reforms will make it possible to cash in annuities, although there is some cautiousness around how this process will best work for pensioners
For entrepreneurs and small businesses
Osborne announced at the top of his final budget in this term of parliament: ‘This budget backs the self-employed, the small business owner.’
There was the news that the dreaded annual tax return will be replaced with individual online tax accounts. In addition –
- Small business relief rate will be doubled to March 2016
- There will be a commitment to ultra-fast broadband
- Extra UKTI resources will double support for British exporters to China
For scientists and researchers
Osborne stated: ‘Future economic success depends on future scientific success. So we’ll add to the financial support I announced at the Autumn Statement for postgraduates, with new support for PhDs and research-based masters degrees.
‘We’re also committing almost £140 million to world class research across the UK into the infrastructure and cities of the future, and giving our national research institutes new budget freedoms.’
He then went to say that ‘we’ll invest in what is known as the Internet of Things. This is the next stage of the information revolution, connecting up everything from urban transport to medical devices to household appliances.
However, it is tempting to agree with the BBC’s Robert Peston that Osborne’s commitment to an ‘Internet of Things’ sprung from a desire to take a swipe at Ed ‘Two Kitchens’ Miliband as the Chancellor’s only elaboration on this was to state: ‘So should – to use a ridiculous example – someone have two kitchens, they will be able to control both fridges from the same mobile phone.’
With the election on 7 May (just 50 days away) immediate political and economic analysts broadly took the view that this budget was focused on what could be repeated on the doorstep as the politicians take to the streets to win our votes.
The Chancellor’s full budget speech can be found here