UKIP today sought to make defence one of the departments protected from austerity with a £16bn spending hike over the course of the next Parliament.
UKIP has singled out defence for extra funding, to meet a NATO commitment to spend two per cent of GDP on defence - potentially meaning even bigger cuts for transport, without further tax rises.
Commentators widely predict that no one party will win a majority at the General Election, meaning the spending commitments of minor parties might have an influence on spending decisions in the next Parliament. To date, as the Institute of Fiscal Studies has noted, the political parties have sought to protect the NHS and pensions, leaving other departments, including transport, unprotected.
The Lib Dems have set out plans to raise NHS spending by £8bn a year by 2020, whilst Labour has pledged £2.5bn extra for health by the third year of the Parliament and UKIP have also promised extra funds for health. Jeremy Hunt, for the Conservatives today, said in a BBC interview said that this party would give the health service "whatever they need," which "may" be £8bn, depending on how many efficiencies can be made.
The protection for the NHS would increase the cuts proposed by the three main parties, the IFS said. Under Conservative plans, which of those spelt out would involve the biggest reductions overall, unprotected departments such as transport would face a 26% cut after 2015/16, the IFS said.
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