Nuffield Trust: Response to the Spring Budget

Thea Stein responds to today's Spring Budget.

Press release

Published: 06/03/2024

Responding to today's Spring Budget, Nuffield Trust Chief Executive Thea Stein said: 

“The aspiration to earmark £3.4 billion for investment in technology in the NHS from next year is a positive recognition that long-term investment in health services is critical. But today’s budget does not give much clarity on where the funding is coming from and postpones the spending until 2025/26, long after the general election.

“The £2.5 billion top up in NHS day-to-day spending announced by the Chancellor today represents the bare minimum needed to reflect current costs and will do little to put the NHS’s finances in a healthier position, leaving it with significantly lower funding levels than needed to fund the government’s workforce plan. Once again social care has received no long-term certainty at all.

“The additional investment in AI and technology to improve patient care and speed up test results are welcome, but the conversation about productivity needs a rethink. New technology will take time, patience and working together with NHS leaders and staff to yield results. In addition, the NHS budget hasn’t kept up with cost pressures which has forced the NHS to regularly raid capital budgets, near to £1 billion this year alone. There is no guarantee we won’t see this again.

“If this is the final fiscal event before an election, then the government’s achievements on social care remain thin. While the confirmation of the extra £500 million for councils and commitment to improving data and AI in social care are welcome, the harsh reality is that thousands of people go without the care they need as the sector struggles across the board. With council finances as precarious as they are and no additional funding to cover growing costs forthcoming in today's budget, they will likely struggle to sustain day-to-day delivery of social care services let alone improve access to care or bring about much-needed comprehensive reform.

“This precarious financial backdrop across health and care means that ahead of a UK general election and given the desire to turn around long waits, access to care and improve crumbling infrastructure, all political parties should be very cautious about promises that can’t be delivered.”

Notes to editors

  1. The Nuffield Trust is an independent health think tank. We aim to improve the quality of health care in the UK by providing evidence-based research and policy analysis and informing and generating debate.
  2. For all queries or to arrange an interview, contact our press office:; or 020 7462 0500.