Nick Robinson Slams Tory Government For Cutting Taxes 'When The NHS Needs More Money'

The Today programme presenter clashed with health secretary Victoria Atkins.
Nick Robinson and Victoria Atkins.
Nick Robinson and Victoria Atkins.

Nick Robinson has condemned the Tory government for announcing major tax cuts while the NHS is in “crisis”.

The Today programme presenter rounded on health secretary Victoria Atkins during an interview this morning.

He took issue with chancellor Jeremy Hunt’s decision to cut 4p off national insurance at the same time as Rishi Sunak is failing to meet his promise to cut hospital waiting lists.

Robinson asked the minister: “Why is your party, the Conservative Party, promising billions of pounds in unfunded tax cuts at a time there is a crisis in the NHS and a Conservative prime minister hasn’t even met the pledge that he made on coming to office?”

Atkins replied: “Well at the spring Budget the chancellor was not only able to offer a second tax cut to working people in a row from the autumn statement, adding up to some £900 or so for the average worker, but he was also able to ensure that a further £2.5 billion has gone into day to day spending for the NHS.”

Robinson then hit back by asking what that extras spending meant “per patient”.

When Atkins said “we simply don’t measure NHS budgets in that way”, the presenter told her: “I’ll give you the figures if I may.

“Between 2022 and 2024, health spending under Treasury plans published in that Budget will fall - not increase - on average by 1.6% per year per person in real terms. So this isn’t a real increase to the health budget at all.”

The minister said: “It very much is, we are spending record amounts on the NHS.”

But Robinson then told her: “We’re always spending record amounts because of inflation and an increasing population, it’s a meaningless statistic.”

He added: “Why are you cutting taxes when the health service needs more money? Why are you not even spending on the scale that Margaret Thatcher did? She increased spending by more than 4% a year in real terms, you are planning - even if you don’t allow for population increase - an increase of less than 1% in real terms.”

But Atkinson insisted the government had not made “unfunded tax cuts”.

She said: “The tax cuts that the chancellor put forward, both at autumn statement and it spring Budget, he’s been able to do that whilst balancing the books.”

The pair clashed as new figures were expected to show waiting lists coming down - but still higher than when Sunak became prime minister.


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