Theresa May tells SNP to spend £2bn on Scottish NHS

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Theresa May has told the Scottish Government how it should spend an estimated £2bn windfall from increased funding for the NHS in England, saying devolved administrations should use the Barnett consequentials to "benefit the whole United Kingdom".

The Prime Minister also called on devolved administrations to follow England's lead in moving towards multi-year funding settlements for the NHS, to give the health service greater certainty about its finances.

Mrs May is under fire for claiming that a spending boost worth around £20bn extra per year by 2024 will be part-paid for by a 'Brexit dividend', despite economists saying that leaving the EU will have a significant negative impact on the public finances. Critics say taxes and borrowing will have to rise in order to deliver the pledge, but no detail on how it will be paid for is expected before November's budget.

READ MORE: Calls for Theresa May to come clean over £20bn 'Brexit dividend'

Speaking on the BBC's Today programme this morning, Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt admitted that the spending plans, which Mrs May has claimed deliver on the Leave campaign's pledge of £350m more a week for the NHS after Brexit, would cost the taxpayer more.

Mr Hunt said there had been "huge, very difficult" discussions with the Treasury that "went to the wire", but that Chancellor Philip Hammond was certain that the additional spending was affordable.

"We are clear that there will be an increased burden of taxation," he confirmed. "We will be able to explain exactly where every penny is coming from but we will do that in the Budget," he said.

Mr Hunt added that the NHS in England would be developing a 10-year plan over the next six months, setting out how the additional spending would deliver better service.

Unveiling the spending boost, Mrs May said: "Because the UK Government is increasing NHS spending in England, extra money will go to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland under the Barnett formula, which ensures every part of the UK gets a fair share of public spending.

"While it is up to the devolved administrations to spend the money as they see fit, I believe everyone in the UK should benefit from this extra funding for the NHS.

"So I urge the devolved administrations in Scotland and Wales to use this money to improve the NHS – and to develop their own long-term plans for NHS Scotland and NHS Wales.

"This way the vision I have set out today can benefit the whole United Kingdom."

Scottish Secretary David Mundell has also called for the funding to be passed on to NHS Scotland, saying the money "has the potential to make a real difference for people in Scotland".

On Tuesday morning, Scotland's Health Secretary Shona Robison welcomed the £2bn windfall through the Barnett formula, but claimed the announcement "really hasn't stood up well to the slightest scrutiny".

"The Tory claim that the NHS can be funded by a Brexit dividend is simply not credible as the UK will be paying £40 billion to leave the EU," Ms Robison told the BBC's Good Morning Scotland.

"That's not just me that's saying that, but we've had the health committee chair Dr Sarah Wollaston calling it tosh and criticising the UK Government for treating the public like fools and of course we've had the Institute for Fiscal Studies saying there's no Brexit dividend.

"So we have to see the detail and see where this money is going to come from we have to see that it is going to be real money."

Ms Robison said the Scottish Government has a "track record of always passing on the health consequentials to the NHS".

READ MORE: £2bn Barnett windfall for NHS as May set to loosen purse strings

"The devil is in the detail and the Tories have form of cutting other budgets when they are passing on consequentials which leaves the Scottish Government less than the health consequentials from the UK Government," she said.

"We've increased the health budget by 9.6% in real terms between 2011 and 2018/19... We still fund far more per head of population in Scotland than south of the border."

Scottish Conservative health spokesman Miles Briggs told the same programme: "In terms of health spending in England it has grown about 10% and in Scotland it has only grown at 5%.

"I want to make sure that as see as we see this £2 billion in additional money coming to Scotland that those who work in our health service, who have been telling us that they need this key investment, will see this money coming through.

"I'll be making sure we keep the pressure on the SNP to deliver for Scotland and deliver for our NHS."