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Women born in the 1950s, who lost out on their state pension when the government raised the retirement age to 65 for both men and women, lobbied MPs yesterday
CHANCELLOR Hammond announced an extra £325 million in yesterday’s budget to fast-track some of the 44 hated STPs (Sustainability and Transformation Plans) of Tory NHS cuts and closures before the end of the year.

Hammond announced £100m funding for 100 new ‘triage’ projects to turn sick people away from A&E departments. He also announced funding for an additional 110 privately-run ‘Free Schools’, on top of the 500 already announced. He announced an increase in Class 4 National Insurance contributions for self-employed people from 9% to 10% in April 1918 and to 11% in April 2019, claiming disparity with tax paid by employees ‘undermines the fairness of our tax system’.

Early in his speech Hammond admitted the utter bankruptcy of British capitalism, saying: ‘Britain has a debt of nearly £1.7 trillion, almost £62,000 for every household in the country. Each year, we are spending £50 billion on debt interest – more than we spend on Defence and Policing combined. And borrowing over the forecast period is still set to be £100 billion higher than predicted at Budget 2016.’

Towards the end of his speech, Hammond dropped his STP bombshell, saying: ‘We recognise the progress the NHS is making in developing Sustainability and Transformation Plans. And we recognise, too, that in addition to the funding already committed, some of those plans will require further capital investment.

‘So the Treasury will work closely with the Department of Health over the course of the summer as the STPs are progressed and prioritised. And at Autumn Budget I will announce a multi-year capital programme to support implementation of approved high quality STPs.

‘In the meantime, my RHF the Health Secretary (Hunt) expects that a small number of the strongest STPs may be ready ahead of Autumn Budget. And so today I am allocating an additional £325 million of capital to allow the first selected plans to proceed. I have one further announcement related to the NHS.

‘The social care package I have announced today will help to free up beds by easing discharge of elderly patients. That is one of the two big pressures on our hospitals. The other is inappropriate A&E attendances by people of all ages. Experience has shown that onsite GP triage in A&E departments can have a significant and positive impact on A&E waiting times. I am therefore making a further £100m of capital available immediately for up to 100 new triage projects at English hospitals in time for next winter.’

Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn responded: ‘The Chancellor made his boast about a strong economy. But who is reaping the rewards of this economy? For millions it is simply not working, not working for the NHS, in its worst crisis ever with funding being cut next year; not working for our children’s schools, where pupil funding continues to be cut; ... not working for our dedicated public services and the people who work in them, nurses, firefighters teachers: no pay rise for seven years for them.

‘And for people with disabilities, who are twice as likely to be living in poverty and this government is denying them the support that the courts say they need. Four million children living in poverty, which will rise by another million in the coming year … And a million elderly people denied the social care they need due to the £4.6 billion cuts made by this government with the support of the LibDems over the past five years.

‘That is the reality facing Britain today: a government cutting services and living standards of the many to fund and continue to fund the tax cuts of the few. There are some people who are doing very well under the Conservative government – the chief executives of big companies, now paid 180 times more than the average worker and taxed less, big corporations making higher profits and being taxed less; speculators making more and being taxed less; and the wealthiest families taxed less due to cuts in inheritance tax. All this adds up to £70 billion of tax giveaways over the next five years, to those who need it the least.’


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