Ahead of the general election on 8 June, we examine whether the government met their 2015 pledges on health and social care.
What did the Conservative party pledge in 2015?
The 2015 Conservative Party manifesto pledged to ‘spend at least an additional £8 billion by 2020 over and above inflation to fund and support the NHS’s own action plan for the next five years.’
What progress has been made?
In the 2015 Spending Review, the government announced that the NHS would receive a real-terms funding increase of £10 billion over the period from 2014/15 to 2020/21, arguing that this delivered on its manifesto commitment to provide the additional funding to implement the NHS five year forward view. This included £2 billion of extra funding that had already been committed for 2015/16.
The funding increases provided to the NHS rely in part on reductions in other areas of spending controlled by the Department of Health such as education and training, capital spending and investment in public health. These unprotected parts of the budget are now coming under greater pressure, with cuts being made to public health services and an increasing backlog of hospital maintenance costs.
On current spending plans, overall health spending – as defined by the Department of Health’s budget including the NHS – will increase by around only £4.6 billion in real terms from 2015/16 to 2020/21. The government’s presentation of these figures has been criticised by both the Health Select Committee and the Public Accounts Committee.
The King’s Fund view
The budget for NHS England is projected to rise by more than £8 billion in real terms between 2015/16 and 2020/21, technically meeting the manifesto commitment to fund the implementation of the NHS five year forward view. However, the budget for the Department of Health – the definition used by previous governments to measure health spending – will increase by only £4.6 billion over this period. Cuts in areas of health spending that have not been protected are having an impact on frontline care.