UK Statistics Authority: Real terms NHS spending is down under the Tories

The UK Statistics Authority has contradicted Tory claims there has been a real terms rise in NHS spending - spending was lower in 2011-12 than in 2009-10.


The UK Statistics Authority has contradicted the government’s claims there has been a real terms rise in NHS spending – spending was lower in 2011-12 than in 2009-10.

In a letter to health secretary Jeremy Hunt, UKSA chair Andrew Dilnot writes:

“The Statistics Authority has been asked to consider, in the light of the published official statistics, various statements made by the prime minister, by yourself, and on the Conservative Party website.

“For example, you said in the House of Commons on 23 October that “real-terms spending on the NHS has increased across the country” and the Conservative Party website states that “we have increased the NHS budget in real terms in each of the last two years”

“The most authoritative source of National Statistics on the subject would seem to be the Treasury publication Public Spending Statistics, and I note that these figures were used in a Department of Health Press Release in July 2012. The most recent update to those figures was published on 31 October [See Table 2] but the July 2012 release [See Table 1] gives a more detailed breakdown…

On the basis of these figures, we would conclude that expenditure on the NHS in real terms was lower in 2011-12 than it was in 2009-10. Given the small size of the changes and the uncertainties associated with them, it might also be fair to say that real terms expenditure had changed little over this period. In light of this, I should be grateful if the Department of Health could clarify the statements made.”

Table 1:

Table 2:

More than two years ago at the time of the October 2010 comprehensive spending review, Left Foot Forward first pointed out the health budget will fall against the baseline set out in the June 2010 emergency budget, contrary to the chancellor’s claims, repeated by himself and others before then and since, that health spending will rise in real terms:


Table 2.2 of the June Budget clearly shows that the departmental expenditure limit for current spending in the Department of Health would be £101.5 billion. But Table 1 of today’s Comprehensive Spending Review sets out that the same number is £98.7 billion.

Health spending will rise to £109.8 billion by 2014-15. In real terms, the rise from the new baseline delivers a 1.3 per cent rise. But compared to the baseline set out just four months ago, the rise turns into a cut of 1.5 per cent.

What has happened to the missing £3 billion this year? If these are the the administrative savings, why have they not been reinvested in the NHS?

When George Osborne again claims today in the autumn statement health spending will rise, take a detailed look at the red book figures, consider the reverses in the NHS, heed the UK Statistics Authority’s words and make your own mind up.

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