Sajid Javid faced tough questioning from LBC’s Nick Ferrari this morning, as the Health Secretary was repeatedly challenged over the Government’s plans to boost health and social care funding.
The radio host probed Mr Javid on why the extra support was needed when Boris Johnson had promised voters the Government would save £350 million a week for the NHS if they opted to leave the EU in the 2016 referendum.
Mr Ferrari said: “A couple of years ago we were told that if we left the European Union we’d be saving £350 million a week that would go to the NHS, that’s tens of billions of pounds we’ve saved.
“Where is it? Why do we need this additional funding now we’ve left the European Union?”
The Health Secretary was momentarily taken aback before responding to the question and blaming the shortfall in funding on the pandemic.
He said the savings made by leaving the EU “hasn’t been enough to meet the challenges” brought by the coronavirus crisis.
But Mr Ferrari refused to accept the Health Secretary’s response and noted that as a former chancellor of the exchequer, billions of pounds would have been saved if the Vote Leave promise was accurate.
He said: “£350 million a week since January last year is tens of billions of pounds, why isn’t that bailing out the NHS?
“Or, is it another lie from Boris Johnson just as the lie in his election manifesto, there is no £350 million a week, there are no promises, you cannot believe a word that comes out of a Conservative’s lips?”
Mr Javid appeared amused by the repeated line of questioning, briefly laughing before responding: “Not at all. As we left the EU it happened at the same time as a global pandemic and that money and much much more has gone into the health and care service.
“We have seen, in the first year of the pandemic, the Government put in [an] additional £40bn. Just this year alone we have put in £29bn more into health and social care.”
He said the money had been spent on necessary things such as vaccines, extra PPE and the test-and-trace system that has allowed people to return to near-normal.
It comes after the Government announced it would be going against its 2019 election manifesto by hiking national insurance by 1.25 percentage points.
The tax rise will be used to pay for the new social care reforms and inject money into the NHS to help clear the huge backlog of patients waiting for treatments, which currently stands at more than 5.5 million people.
The Government said the measure would raise £36 billion over three years, with £5.3billion allocated to the social care sector.