On 23 November, Philip Hammond delivered his first Autumn Statement since taking over as chancellor. After creating a moment of intrigue by announcing this was also to be his last Autumn Statement, he went on to explain planned changes to the timetable that will see the future Budgets being issued in the autumn accompanied by a Spring Statement earlier in the year.
Following this brief moment of frivolity, there was little more to make anyone smile, especially those involved in health and social care, which received no mention of note and certainly no additional funding.
The statement included a substantial re-forecasting of government finances since the Budget 2016, with the public purse forecast to be £122bn worse off in the period until 2021, with debt rising from 84.2% of GDP last year to 87.3% this year, and further increasing to 90.2% in 2017/18. As a result the government is no longer seeking to deliver a budget surplus by the end of this current Parliament, leaving that to be achieved "as early as possible" in the next Parliament.
This relaxation has allowed current spending plans to be maintained while additional borrowing will be used to fund infrastructure investment, including a welcome £2bn in research and development. Sticking to the current spending plans means continuation of austerity for public services, although it seems likely that the same broad priorities will stay in place for the remainder of this Parliament, including ringfencing, on the NHS, defence, overseas aid and the triple-lock for pensions.
CIPFA issued a Briefing on the Autumn Statement (PDF, 301 KB), which included the following comments on health and social care: