PM told to come clean on funding source for NHS boost

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LONDON - Theresa May's claim that a "Brexit dividend" will fund increases in spending on the National Health Service has been rubbished by economists and senior Conservative colleagues.

The prime minister is facing a backlash for linking her NHS cash boost with the Vote Leave pledge during the referendum campaign to spend Britain's European Union contributions on the health service instead.

Theresa May insisted in a speech at the weekend that savings could be made once the United Kingdom was no longer paying annual membership subscriptions to the European Union and this could be diverted to the NHS.

The NHS has been struggling to cope with funding shortages in recent years, particularly during the flu-ridden winter months.

The prime minister was joined at the announcement by her chancellor, Philip Hammond and health secretary Jeremy Hunt.

She will hope they are wrong when the time comes for the chancellor to tell us how much taxes will rise to fund it.

May also said that one of the priorities of the NHS' ten-year-plan will be "harnessing the power of innovation".

The NHS budget increase was expected to take place over five years, reaching the full amount in 2023/24, the newspapers said.

When questioned on the Andrew Marr Show on Sunday about what she would be "bringing to the party" ahead of the NHS's 70 birthday on 5 July, Theresa May confirmed the NHS will receive an extra £20bn a year.

Setting out the plans, Mrs May said: "We can not continue to put a sticking plaster on the NHS budget each year, so we will do more than simply give the NHS a one-off injection of cash".

The government has yet to confirm a plan for finding up to £11bn of the money promised yesterday, with the PM telling Swarbrick that tax rises are on the way in the autumn budget. "How are they going to pay for it?"

She also intimated that there would be rises in income tax to help fund additional resources, as she said "we as a country will contribute a bit more".

However the Scottish official raised concerns surrounding the funding of the NHS in Scotland under the SNP.

The Health Foundation has been clear: the proposed funding increase is not enough.

There isn't any extra guaranteed money available as a result of ending our payments to the European Union budget, because those savings are likely to be more than offset by other costs associated with Brexit. But it's right that we must recognise the impact social care has on the NHS, and the way in which these work together.

Ms Robison said the Scottish Government has a "track record of always passing on the health consequentials to the NHS".

"Actually the public finances will be 15 billion or so worse off, not better off, so there really just isnt money there for a Brexit dividend.”".

The DUP's Simon Hamilton said the announcement was a "hugely welcome boost for our National Health Service".

"We're prepared to make tough decisions, but fair decisions, which we believe would add even more to the NHS".