NHS budget will remain ringfenced

THE NHS and international aid budgets will continue to be ringfenced in this year’s Budget, George Osborne said yesterday.

Protected budgets – which also include welfare and schools – represent around two-fifths of total government spending, leading to accusations that other departments are unfairly bearing the brunt of the cuts.

But the chancellor told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Programme the government has made a “strong commitment” to maintaining the existing budgets.

“I don’t think it’s wrong to protect the NHS budget,” he said. “And I also think... that we made an obligation to the world’s poorest. We’re going to meet that obligation next year with 0.7 per cent of our national income going in aid.”

Last week right-wing Conservative MP Liam Fox and Lib Dem business secretary Vince Cable formed an unlikely alliance to oppose the policy, instead calling for greater flexibility.