Wednesday, 25 November 2015

The real story is health spending not spending on the elderly.


This graph is doing the rounds, usually attached to arguments about how favoured the old are under the present government.

Right now spending on 'older people' (which I assume means the state pension and assorted other welfare payments directed to retired folk) has got back to the position it was relative to other spending back in 1997. We can also note that, despite falling unemployment and endless stories about the evil DWP, the rest of welfare spending has barely budged as a proportion of total spending. And there's a reason perhaps for old people getting more of the budget - there's a whole lot more of them than there used to be:

I'm not defending the 'triple lock' or other decisions made by government over the past several years merely observing that the increased number of older people inevitably means a bigger bill for old age pensions.

To return to that graph from the Resolution Foundation again, the real change that shows isn't the up and down in terms of funding for old or young but the acceleration in health spending as a proportion of total spending. Now this is, in part, another consequence of those older people - something like three-quarters of NHS spending is on the over 65s (for the simple fact that they need the health care while younger folk mostly don't) - but it is also shows that health spending is the real priority of government. And reminds us that the efficient and effective use of that growing resource represents the dominant challenge for any UK government. Shouting about how old folk are getting a better deal isn't the issue here - getting to grips with the health budget is.


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