Separating fact and fiction: health and social care funding

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The issue

NHS and social care funding are never far from the media and political spotlight. In a highly charged political environment in which competing claims are made by politicians and conflicting views reported by the media, it is vital that the debate about health and social care spending is informed by robust independent analysis.

What did we do?

In 2015, we began working in partnership with the Nuffield Trust and the Health Foundation to inform the debate around major statements of government spending such as the Budget and Spending Reviews. By working together, we aimed to provide a single, authoritative and independent analysis of health and social care funding.

In December 2015, we jointly published an assessment of what the government's Spending Review meant for the NHS and social care. This challenged the government's claim that it had provided the NHS with a real-terms funding increase of £8 billion a year by 2020 and showed that, once cuts to certain budgets were factored in, the increase in health funding was closer to £4 billion a year.

We joined forces again to update our analysis ahead of the Autumn Statement in November 2016. This time, we warned that, unless additional funding was provided, spending cuts would result in a £1.9 billion funding gap in social care in 2018/19.

Ahead of the 2017 Autumn Budget, we published new analysis showing that a £4 billion increase in NHS funding was needed to prevent standards of care from deteriorating.

What was the impact?

Media and politicians increasingly regard this work as the most authoritative analysis of health and social care funding. In its report on the outcome of the 2015 Spending Review, the Health Select Committee endorsed our assessment of how much funding had been provided to the NHS and criticised the government's presentation of the figures.

Our analysis of the social care funding gap was regularly quoted around the 2016 Autumn Statement, which saw the government announce significant additional funding for social care.

In 2017, our analysis ahead of the Budget was cited by Simon Stevens, Chief Executive of NHS England, in a high-profile call for more funding for the NHS. Our estimate that £4 billion in additional funding was required was widely quoted in the media and in parliament as the definitive assessment of how much money the NHS needed.

We will carry on working in this way with the Nuffield Trust and the Health Foundation to ensure the debate about health and social care funding is informed by rigorous independent analysis.