Socialist Worker

May’s ‘Brexit dividend’ NHS funding plan backfires and creates chaos in the Tories

by Tomáš Tengely-Evans
Issue No. 2609

Tens of thousands of people marched to defend the NHS in London in February

Tens of thousands of people marched to defend the NHS in London in February (Pic: Guy Smallman)


Theresa May’s pledge to boost NHS funding through a £20 billion “Brexit dividend” backfired spectacularly on Monday.

The prime minister had hoped her announcement would pacify Tory rebels as they debated the EU Withdrawal Bill.

Instead, the pledge “sparked a mutiny” as at least six other ministers fought for more funding, according to the Times newspaper.

May had hoped to claim that most of the £20 billion injection by 2023 would come through Brexit, not more tax.

“As a country we will be contributing more, a bit more, but also we will have that sum of money that is available from the European Union,” she said on Sunday.

But on Monday the health secretary Jeremy Hunt was in headlong retreat as he faced questions from MPs about where the money would come from.

“We are clear that there will be an increased burden of taxation,” he admitted.

Yet the Tories are refusing to say in detail how they’ll fund the increase until the Budget this autumn.

Pressure

There is also pressure on the Labour leadership to say it will raise taxes for ordinary people, not just corporations and the rich. Shadow chancellor John McDonnell said he would roll back some, but not all, of the Tories’ corporation tax cuts to top up NHS funding.

Labour’s manifesto promised to raise corporation tax from 19 percent to 26 percent by 2020—a move that could generate an extra £19 billion a year. But at 26 percent, Corbyn’s corporation tax rate would still be lower than it was under New Labour governments.

There is no need to raise taxes on working class people. Last month’s Sunday Times Rich List showed the 1,000 richest people and families saw their wealth increase by 10 percent in a year—to a record £724 billion.

It names Tory party donor Mike Platt as Britain’s richest hedge fund manager with a fortune of £3 billion. Seizing the wealth of this socially useless banker alone could fund 42,000 nurses’ salaries for a year.

As the NHS approaches its 70th birthday on 5 July, it’s been pushed to the brink by Tory cuts and privatisation.

The £20 billion increase is in any case inadequate and the rate of increase lower than the average 3.7 percent a year rise in NHS funding over the last 70 years.

The Health Campaigns Together and People’s Assembly NHS at 70 march in London on Saturday 30 June is a chance to fight for the funding that it needs.


Ambulance workers strike

Ambulance workers in the north west of England struck as part of a long-running pay dispute on Monday.

The GMB union members are staging two-hour walkouts at the beginning of every day shift.

Bosses at North Western Ambulance Service (NWAS) have dragged their feet over a job re-evaluation process.

The GMB said paramedics working for NWAS have been waiting for the outcome of job evaluations going back over 12 years.

Mike Buoey, a GMB organiser, said “paramedics have been backed into a corner” by the “pig-headed attitude of the NWAS top brass”.

“They have waited patiently for many years while their job was re-evaluated for the years between 2005 and 2016,” he said.

“NWAS asked what our members wanted. We told them that we wanted an independent investigation into what has happened during the past 13 years and an external evaluation of the job role.

“They flatly refused.”

The workers voted by more than 84 percent in favour of strikes.


Whittington Hospital campaigners say no to Rydon

Whittington Hospital campaigners say no to Rydon


Whittington Hospital campaign says no to Rydon

Health campaigners have written to Whittington Hospital board demanding they don’t sign a contract with Ryhurst.

Ryhurst is a firm with links to a company centrally involved in Grenfell Tower, Rydon.

Bosses at the north London hospital want to hand over management of the estates and facilities strategy to Ryhurst.

Rydon carried out the refurbishment of Grenfell Tower before the fire last year that killed at least 72 people.

The letter from campaigners says it is “ethically unsound” and has “serious risk implications”.


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