Peter Hoskin

Lansley splashes the cash

Lansley splashes the cash
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Andrew Lansley lobs a firecracker into the tortoise-hare debate this morning; announcing that the Tories would increase health spending by an extra £28 billion a year. The pledge actually goes beyond any made by the Government, and will see health expenditure rise by 2 percent of GDP.

It sends a strong message out to the voting public. Something like: “We care about the NHS because we're pumping more money into the NHS”. Sadly, though, it's the wrong message. If ten years of Blair and Brown have taught us anything, it's that increased inputs don't necessarily equate to improved outputs. Today's National Audit Office report only serves to underline this.

If Cameron and Osborne really want to move to a low tax economy then they should attack the “more spending = good” ideology head-on*. Instead, they're keeping the debate on comfortable ground for Brown. When it comes to spending taxpayers' cash, the Prime Minister's hard to beat.

*Lansley's pledge will be met by countervailing cuts in other areas: “It’s tough. It means there are places where public expenditure will decline as a proportion of GDP or in some cases in absolute terms.” Such below-the-headline (and begrudging?) admissions don't attack anything head-on.