Monday, 4 January 2010

U is for Uncosted

A continuing series of spelling out Conservative plans Part 4.

I've just taken a quick look through the Conservative Party's manifesto chapter on health (you can access it here). Now on a cursory glance although expense and savings are mentioned many times there is no actual figures for much of this. Indeed apart from a line of in the introduction that says:

"By the time you've finished reading this sentence we'll have racked up £33,000 more in [national] debt"

There are only three figures of actual costs either current or future of what is involved.

First up we have we have that poor mental health costs the economy £77 billion each year. Before they go on to say that rules preventing welfare-to-work providers and employers purchasing services from Mental Health Trusts.

There is of course the one-off payment upon retirement of £8,000 for their 'free personal care for the elderly' as I blogged earlier during their conference this is but a poor imitation of what the Lib Dems have been proposing for a number of years now, and delivered in Scotland.

The only other monetary amount to be mentioned is a £10 million a year commitment beyond 2011 to support hospices in their vital work with children.

In the past the Tories have often thrust the argument out at the Liberal Democrat manifesto pledges that they were uncosted and meant nothing. That of course is no longer the case Lib Dem manifestos are fully audited and costed. For all their talk of expense and savings the Tories have not indicated one costing of what will be saved or what will be committed in what is Chapter one of their manifesto.

Lib Dem MP Norman Lamb had this to say about the announcement this morning.

"All today’s announcement confirms is that the Tories can’t be trusted with the NHS and have every intention of playing fantasy politics all the way up to the election.

"The NHS is facing enormous shortfalls in funding over the next few years yet the Tories continue to promise extra health spending without any details of where the money will come from.

"The time has come for David Cameron to be honest with the British public. If the Tories want to pledge extra spending on health in some areas then they must admit that without extra funds it will lead to cuts in frontline services elsewhere. And if they plan to remove all central targets how do they intend to prevent a return to the waiting lists of old?

"The sad truth is that David Cameron knows his health policies don’t add up. How else do you explain the sudden U-turn today on their flagship single room’s policy?"

Alistair Darling meanwhile has pointed out:

"The Tories have made over £45bn of promises, but can barely explain how they can pay for a quarter of this. This leaves them with a credibility gap of £34bn.

"These are not long forgotten promises from another time. All have been confirmed in the last two years. Most have been repeated in the last few months.

"You can't fight an election on a nod and a wink; sometimes claiming you are committed to these promises, and when challenged claiming you are not."

Maybe he has a point.

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