Balls rules out NHS tax increase – funding announcement expected this week

In an interview with the Guardian, Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls, despite stating that he wants the NHS “at the heart of the Labour election campaign”, has once again ruled out tax increases to secure funding, adding: “I want to do whatever it takes to save the NHS under a Labour government, but I am not proposing any tax rises … If within the overall total of public spending we can release money for the NHS that is what we will do. If we can find ways to make savings within the NHS budget that is what we do”. His comments were taken to mean that he is considering a ringfenced NHS budget or finding other ways to raise revenue, such as transferring resources from other Government Departments. Last week, Balls was reported as examining a variety of other funding options, including “sin taxes” (e.g. tobacco and alcohol).

Although not making any particular announcement, Ed Miliband, speaking on The Andrew Marr Show on Sunday, said that “We are certainly going to make sure the NHS does not lose money and we want to do more than that. We will be saying more about that between now and the election”. His comments hint that the Party will make a big announcement on NHS funding during its conference this week.