Autumn 2018 budget announced

Chancellor Philip Hammond has today (Monday 29 October) delivered his 2018 budget, describing it as bringing an end to the “age of austerity”.

Some key points from today’s budget announcement:

  • Mr Hammond confirmed there would be a “historic £20.5bn real-terms increase for the NHS in full over the next five years”
  • Local authorities in England will get an extra £650m of grant funding for 2019-20 to spend on social care
  • The income tax personal allowance will rise to £12,500 and the higher rate threshold to £50,000 from April 2019. This is a year earlier than promised in the Conservative Party’s 2017 manifesto.
  • From April the National Living Wage will rise by 4.9 per cent from £7.83 to £8.21
  • For the next two years, all retailers in England with a rateable value of £51,000 or less will see their business rates bill reduced by a third
  • In order to reduce the amount of plastic in our oceans, Mr Hammond introduced a new tax on the manufacture and import of plastic packaging containing less than 30 per cent recycled plastic
  • An extra £500m for no-deal Brexit preparations.

NHS funding boost ring-fenced, says Hancock

In June of this year, prime minister Theresa May announced there would be a £20bn increase in NHS funding between 2018 and 2023. While there will need to be an emergency Brexit budget should the UK leave the EU without a deal in March 2019, today health secretary Matt Hancock told the BBC that the NHS money is to be ring-fenced “irrespective of the deal” or lack thereof.

It is not yet clear whether any portion of this additional funding will go towards the community pharmacy sector. The Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee recently agreed on a 2018-19 funding settlement with the Department of Health and Social Care and says it has told DHSC it wishes to begin 2019-20 talks "as early as possible".

RPS: more clarity needed on funding allocation

Royal Pharmaceutical Society England board chair Sandra Gidley said: "With additional funding already announced for the health service, the key question is how this will be allocated to implement the NHS Long-Term Plan.

"Supporting public health and prevention, investing in education and training, and ensuring patients and the NHS receive the most benefit from medicines must be prioritised.

"Community pharmacy owners may welcome future support around business rates, but will no doubt be looking for further progress to make the most of the community pharmacy network to improve patient care.

“Additional investment in mental health is welcome but this should also be targeted at support for people before they reach crisis point. As the third largest health profession, pharmacists working across the NHS can play a key role in closing the gap between people’s physical and mental health."

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