Web Only: the best of the blogs

The five must-read posts from today, on nationalised banks, electoral reform and paywalls.

1. What do nationalised banks do?

At Stumbling and Mumbling, Chris Dillow argues that nationalising the banks may be preferable to "better regulation".

2. Is this how Tories plan to scupper voting reform?

Sunny Hundal reports on a Tory plan to make any referendum on electoral reform subject to a threshold of 40 per cent approval from the electorate.

3. Will Labour campaign for electoral reform?

Elsewhere, Next Left's Sunder Katwala urges the Labour leadership contenders to adopt a clear position on the referendum.

4. Why I am standing to be deputy leader of the Liberal Democrats

Over at Liberal Democrat Voice, Tim Farron explains why he is the best choice for deputy leader.

5. The Times and charging for content

Daniel Finkelstein reponds to criticism of the Times's decision to charge for access to its website, and predicts that rivals which fail to do the same will struggle to stay in business.

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The big problem for the NHS? Local government cuts

Even a U-Turn on planned cuts to the service itself will still leave the NHS under heavy pressure. 

38Degrees has uncovered a series of grisly plans for the NHS over the coming years. Among the highlights: severe cuts to frontline services at the Midland Metropolitan Hospital, including but limited to the closure of its Accident and Emergency department. Elsewhere, one of three hospitals in Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland are to be shuttered, while there will be cuts to acute services in Suffolk and North East Essex.

These cuts come despite an additional £8bn annual cash injection into the NHS, characterised as the bare minimum needed by Simon Stevens, the head of NHS England.

The cuts are outlined in draft sustainability and transformation plans (STP) that will be approved in October before kicking off a period of wider consultation.

The problem for the NHS is twofold: although its funding remains ringfenced, healthcare inflation means that in reality, the health service requires above-inflation increases to stand still. But the second, bigger problem aren’t cuts to the NHS but to the rest of government spending, particularly local government cuts.

That has seen more pressure on hospital beds as outpatients who require further non-emergency care have nowhere to go, increasing lifestyle problems as cash-strapped councils either close or increase prices at subsidised local authority gyms, build on green space to make the best out of Britain’s booming property market, and cut other corners to manage the growing backlog of devolved cuts.

All of which means even a bigger supply of cash for the NHS than the £8bn promised at the last election – even the bonanza pledged by Vote Leave in the referendum, in fact – will still find itself disappearing down the cracks left by cuts elsewhere. 

Stephen Bush is special correspondent at the New Statesman. He usually writes about politics.