Headlines: April 18th, 2002

Health and social care workers will learn today (Thursday, April 18, 2002) what ‘hoops, hurdles and targets’ they’ll have to face alongside what the Chancellor has billed as the largest ever sustained increase in NHS resources.The long term investment laid out in his budget is to be followed by announcements today by Health Secretary Alan Millburn of long term reform.

The BMA is among the health groups who have welcomed the new money but have warned that hard-pressed doctors do not need the distraction of a raft of new targets and measures.

Among the new measures to re-assure the public that the new money is well spent will be independent audit for the NHS, and an independent annual report to Parliament that will itemise what money has gone to the NHS, where it has been spent, and what the result of the spending has been.

Budget 2002 adds four billion pounds to spending on public services in 2003-04 and promises further sustained increases in investment in future years.

As well as 7.4% growth for the NHS, 6 per cent real growth is promised for personal social services. Alan Milburn is expected to announce the further joining-up of these two services.

The other main gainers in the public services are schools, which will have new capital expenditure, and the Police, who will have new money to fight street crime.

As well as the renewal of public services the Budget had two other main strands – to promote enterprise through a range of measures to support small businesses, to help families by the introduction of a new child tax credit.

The key revenue stream in the Budget comes from a one per cent increase in national insurance contributions for employees, employers and the self-employed.

More details: www.hm-treasury.gov.uk/