For the first time, the Autumn budget will be the first only major financial statement of the year – replacing the current system under which the Spring Budget was following by an ‘update’ in the autumn.
Hammond said the Autumn Budget was an opportunity for the Government to “set out our thinking on how to keep the economy strong and resilient and fair – an economy that works for everyone.”
In its 2017 general election manifesto, the Conservative Party pledged to increase NHS spending (NHS England only) by a minimum of £8 billion in real terms over the next five years, and to deliver an increase in real terms funding per head of the population for every year of the parliament. Plans for how the government will allocate this additional NHS funding should be released in the Autumn budget.
The Government has already announced an end to the 1% public sector pay cap with modest pay increases for the police (1% rise and 1% bonus) and prison workers (1.7%). Whether this translates to NHS workers is yet to be confirmed. But pressure has been mounting on ministers, with warnings growing from senior NHS officials and influential think-tanks that the pay cap was hindering recruitment and retention within the NHS.
Dave Prentis, Unison’s general secretary, said: “The government cannot pick and choose who should benefit. Everyone working in the NHS, schools and higher education, local government and the police service is long overdue a rise.” Whilst nothing has been confirmed, speaking in Parliament Mr Hunt told MPs that any pay rise could depend on NHS staff delivering on productivity targets.
Jeremy Hunt is also coming under increasing pressure from NHS England’s chief executive, Simon Stevens, who recently told a parliamentary health committee that if Chancellor Philip Hammond does not increase the funding in the Budget on November 22 there would be “consequences” for patient care.
Such a direct call for extra money and the warning that any failure to deliver will endanger patients will heap pressure on Mr Hammond as he considers his first Autumn budget.
Taking a conservative approach may be the Chancellors natural instinct, especially in light of Brexit, but he will need to balance this with the increasing political pressure to spend.