Prime Minister's Questions, factchecked

Published: 23rd Nov 2016

£10 billion or £4.5 billion: what's going on with NHS spending?

“It is this Government that is providing not just the £8 billion of extra funding that the NHS requested, but £10 billion of extra funding”.

Theresa May, 23 November 2016

“The Health Select Committee...  says it’s actually £4.5 billion, not £10 billion. There’s quite a big difference there."

Jeremy Corbyn, 23 November 2016

The government is not giving the NHS what it requested. The figure of £10 billion refers to the NHS England budget, not overall health spending—a definition that’s been used in the past. There will be spending reductions in areas like public health that the NHS assumed would be funded when it calculated the size of its request.

Overall health spending this parliament is going up by £4.5 billion after inflation, once you count those other areas, as Mr Corbyn says. The Health Committee of MPs agrees.

In addition, NHS leaders asked for (at minimum) £8 billion extra over five years. The government’s £10 billion figure is calculated over six years, counting a year’s worth of money that’s already been spent in the previous parliament.

The government has claimed recently it understands the NHS’s request did cover this extra year. Full Fact is investigating.

The NHS says it is facing a funding gap of £30 billion by the end of this decade, as the population grows larger and as people live longer. It said in 2014 one option for dealing with this is for it to find £22 billion in efficiency savings, with the government putting in £8 billion.

But that’s not all. The NHS also said its ambitions for savings were only possible “provided we take action in prevention, invest in new care models, sustain social care services, and… see… wider system improvements”.

The government’s £8 billion commitment refers specifically to the NHS England budget. Outside of this, spending on public health is expected to fall over this parliament, and spending on social care is expected to continue to fall short of what’s needed, according to health policy experts.

Social care and delayed transfers from hospital

“In the last four years the number of patients unable to be transferred from hospital due to a lack of adequate social care increased by one third.”

Jeremy Corbyn, 23 November 2016

Mr Corbyn’s office told us that he was referring to the difference between the number of patients experiencing a delayed transfer from hospital because of problems with social care between 2011/12 and 2015/16.

In that time the proportion of delayed transfers in England increased by around 33% or one third.

These figures are a snapshot taken on the last Thursday of each month rather than the total number of patients delayed.

The most common reason for these patients being delayed due to social care in September 2016, the most recent month we have data for, was because they were waiting for a care package in their own home.

Over the same time the number of patients delayed because of problems relating to the NHS also increased, by 28%. More patients generally are delayed because of NHS problems than because of social care.

Those patients delayed by both NHS issues and social care increased by 23%.

We’ve written more about these delayed transfers from hospital and how much it costs NHS England here.

Are one million people without social care?

“Part of the reason for the strain on our National Health Service is that more than one million people are not receiving the social care they need.”

Jeremy Corbyn, 23 November 2016

Jeremy Corbyn’s team confirmed this is based on a press release from the charity Age UK. The analysis behind it hasn’t been published, so neither we nor anyone else can check how accurate it is yet.

Age UK claims 1.2m people aged 65 or over in England don’t get the support they need with at least one everyday task at least some of the time. Its report from last year estimated that just over a million people, or around 10% of older people, had at least one unmet need. So this year’s estimate is an increase on previous ones.

The findings are based on comparing the results of a large research survey on aging in England with official population statistics.

The survey asks people whether they need help with tasks like getting dressed, washing or eating, and then how often they get enough help. Those findings are compared to the total population of 65-90 year olds in England in 2014.

The King’s Fund published a report on social care for older people this year. It said the effects reduced funding for social care may be having on the NHS should be considered alongside other pressures, such as those on GPs and community nurses.

Age UK told us that more information will be provided in a report to be published in a few weeks time.

Disability benefits: spending on the rise?

“The government plans to cut support for people with long-term health difficulties by £30 a week”

Angus Robertson MP, 23 November 2016

“The overall funding for disability benefits will be higher in every year up to 2020 than it was in 2010”

Theresa May, 23 November 2016

Mr Robertson is referring to the planned reduction in Employment and Support Allowance for the ‘work related activity group’ of people who receive that benefit.

People in this group have been judged unable to work, but viewed as capable of returning to the workplace at some point in the future. From April 2017, new claimants will get £73.10 instead of the £102.15 per week that current claimants get. This is to bring the benefit in line with the Jobseeker's Allowance claimed by people who are unemployed and looking for work.

Mrs May was correct in her reply that spending on disability benefits overall will increase each year up to 2020. That is, if you look at the cash amount to be spent on disability benefitsthe increase is slightly less consistent when you take inflation into account.

Figures compiled by the House of Commons Library show disability benefit spending in cash terms going from £17.1 billion in 2010/11 to £24.6 billion in 2020/21, rising each individual year in between.

But, in real terms, the increase over the decade is several billion smaller, and spending is forecast to drop back this financial year.

This won’t take into account any changes to disability benefits announced at today’s Autumn Statement.


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