Weekly political news round up – 27th November 2015

November 29, 2015 in News by Whitehouse

Around the sector

The National Children’s Bureau has launched a website for children and young people providing a guide to their rights under the NHS Constitution and videos explaining the importance of applying those rights in practice. It was developed with the input of over 100 children and young people – including disabled children, and those with long term conditions, mental health issues and those in local authority care. The website was funded by the Department of Health.

Forthcoming events

The Welsh Health and Social Care Committee will publish its report on the general principles of the Public Health (Wales) Bill on Monday 30th November.

Spending Review and Autumn Statement 2015

Chancellor George Osborne this week delivered the Autumn Statement and Spending Review to Parliament. The Autumn Statement is the government’s second annual update on its taxation and spending plans. The Spending Review provides a five-year view of the government’s spending plans, setting the budgets for all the government departments. This is the first time that both have been set out in one speech since 2007.

Osborne revealed that the deficit has decreased to 3.9% of national income for this year, falling to 2.5% next year, 1.2% in 2017/18 and reaching a surplus of 0.5% of national income in 2019/20. The UK will borrow £73.5bn this year, then £49.9bn next year, £24.8bn in 2017/18 and reaching a surplus by 2019/20. The UK will grow 2.4% this year, with a prediction of 2.4% in 2016 and 2.5% in 2017.

Ahead of the Spending Review, each government department was asked to model for cuts of between 25% and 40%, with agreements reached over the past week.

Health

As announced earlier this week, NHS England will receive a frontloaded £3.8 billion next year from the £8 billion promised by the Government in the Summer Budget, on top of the extra £2 billion announced in last year’s autumn statement – a total close to £6 billion. The Spending Review document noted that this will help deliver seven day services in primary care and in hospitals.

Part of the additional funding will come from within other areas of the Department of Health, with the Chancellor announcing in his speech that there will be a 25% cut to central department spending (although this has been calculated by health think-tank the Health Foundation to be closer to a 21% cut in real terms). Health Education England, responsible for the education and training of health professionals, will receive a budget cut of £1.2 billion, part of which will be made up of converting bursaries for nurses into student loans.

The Spending Review outlined that the £200 million cuts to the public health grant will continue over the next five years, with the ringfence on spending maintained for at least the two next years. The Government intends to consult on options to fully fund local authorities’ public health spending from their retained business rate receipts, as part of the move towards 100% business rate retention. It was also noted that Public Health England will support local authorities to deliver efficiencies.

Education

The Spending Review indicates that the Government will reduce local authority roles in running schools and remove “a number of statutory duties”. The Government will consult on the policy and funding proposals in 2016.

The Government will also introduce scrap the current school funding formula, and introduce a new national funding formula for schools, high needs and early years, so that funding is “transparently and fairly” linked to children’s needs. Other reforms include a £23 billion investment in school buildings, opening 500 free schools, creating 600,000 school places, as well as refurbishing over 500 schools, and investing in school places for children with special educational needs and disabilities.