How does the budget affect nurses?
‘We are the party of the NHS’, declared the chancellor of the exchequer Philip Hammond when he announced the spring budget.
Though no mention was made of nursing and other NHS staff pay, Mr Hammond announced a number of measures for health and social care, including extra £2 billion for social care services in England.
‘Today, our social care system cares for over a million people and I pay tribute to the hundreds of thousands of carers, who work in it,’ he said.
‘But the system is clearly under pressure. And this in turn puts pressure on our NHS.
‘Today I am committing additional grant funding of £2 billion to social care in England over the next 3 years, with £1 billion available in 2017-8. This will allow local authorities to act now to commission new care packages.’
Mr Hammond also announced £100 million capital funding for new triage systems at emergency departments to help alleviate pressures and tackle ‘inappropriate A&E attendances’ in time for next winter.
He said there would be additional capital funding of £325 million for the first selected Sustainability and Transformation Plans (STP) to proceed.
For working families, the free childcare entitlement for parents with three and four years old will double to 30 hours a week from September.
But self-employed nurses are set to pay increased National Insurance (NI) contributions from April 2018.
Mr Hammond said that because self-employed and employed workers can claim similar benefits, including a state pension, the gap between how much is paid in NI is ‘no longer justified’.
He predicted this change would raise an estimated £145 million for public services.
Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn MP attacked the chancellor for a budget that did not mention nurse pay, which he said has not increased for seven years.
The RCN earlier this week repeated its call for better pay to help retain nurses and attract new people to the profession.
Mr Corybn said: ‘He [Mr Hammond] could have ended the public sector pay cap, as we are pledged to do, and given a pay rise to 5 million dedicated public servants, who we all rely on day in day out in our hospitals, health service in general and our local government.
‘It’s an insult to say they deserve falling living standards, when we know they are working harder than ever.’
Martin Green, chief executive of Care England, the largest representative body for independent providers of adult social care, said of the funding for social care: ‘The chancellor’s spring budget has quite rightly acknowledged the precarious state of adult social care. While the £2 billion additional funding over three years for adult social care is welcome it will only be an efficient use of tax payers money should the green paper on adult social care deliver the reforms that are necessary to put the system on a stable footing.’
Unison's general secretary Dave Prentis tweeted after the budget: ‘NHS is being pushed to the brink. All the government offers is tinkering while the NHS crumbles.’
Spring budget at a glance
Tax and NI
- Self-employed people earning more than £16,200 will pay increased NI contributions from April 2018. Tax changes will mean they are required to pay similar rates as employed workers.
- Tax free allowance increased to £11,500, rising to £12,500 by the end of parliament (2020).
- £325 million capital to be made available for first STPs ahead of the autumn budget.
- Extra capital funding for STPs to be announced in autumn budget.
- £100 million for new triage systems in emergency departments in time for next winter.
- £2 billion grant for social care in England over next three years, with £1 billion available in 2017-18.
- Green Paper to be produced on future funding.
- £2,000 a year for working families towards the cost of childcare for under 12 rolled out to all eligible families by the end of 2017.
- From September, free childcare entitlement for working parents with three and four years old to double to 30 hours a week. This will be worth about £5,000 a year to a young family with a three year old and both parents working.