Morning Call: pick of the papers

The ten must-read comment pieces from this morning's papers.

1. Osborne is Scrooge, but Balls still hasn’t picked his part (Daily Telegraph)

Labour can’t be sure of victory in 2015 until it makes a convincing case for shoestring policies, says Mary Riddell.

2. Blacklisting is the scandal that now demands action (Guardian)

Thousands have been driven out of work in Britain by corporate spying outfits, writes Seumas Milne. It's an outrage that calls for more than an inquiry.

3. Osborne's Autumn Statement will mean a winter of discontent for the disabled (Independent)

The people after whom Osborne is going have no cunning tax lawyers to defend them, writes Matthew Norman.

4. A verdict on our judges: too white, too male (Times) (£)

The judiciary would be more trusted and of higher quality if many more women and black people were appointed, says Jack Straw.

5. Pity this royal baby, its future a public obstacle course (Guardian)

The idea of a 'royal family' has been a big mistake, argues Simon Jenkins. Its members are forced to live under the glare of a terrible spotlight.

6. Beware membership of this elite club (Financial Times)

The business climate among the Brics countries is less than ideal, writes Sebastian Mallaby.

7. Compassion in nursing starts elsewhere (Independent)

If we want kind nurses, we need to work much, much harder to make kinder children, and kinder adults, says Christina Patterson.

8. No one likes a city that's too smart (Guardian)

Let's hope Rio rather than Songdo or Masdar is the inspiration for the urbanists gathering in London this week, writes Richard Sennett.

9. The allies who moulded the welfare state (Financial Times)

William Beveridge and Eleanor Roosevelt were the key influences on modern social policy, writes John Kay.

10. The taxman isn’t really after the big beasts (Daily Telegraph)

Small businesses, not the multinationals, will bear the brunt of the Revenue’s blitz, writes Philip Johnston.





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Is anyone prepared to solve the NHS funding crisis?

As long as the political taboo on raising taxes endures, the service will be in financial peril. 

It has long been clear that the NHS is in financial ill-health. But today's figures, conveniently delayed until after the Conservative conference, are still stunningly bad. The service ran a deficit of £930m between April and June (greater than the £820m recorded for the whole of the 2014/15 financial year) and is on course for a shortfall of at least £2bn this year - its worst position for a generation. 

Though often described as having been shielded from austerity, owing to its ring-fenced budget, the NHS is enduring the toughest spending settlement in its history. Since 1950, health spending has grown at an average annual rate of 4 per cent, but over the last parliament it rose by just 0.5 per cent. An ageing population, rising treatment costs and the social care crisis all mean that the NHS has to run merely to stand still. The Tories have pledged to provide £10bn more for the service but this still leaves £20bn of efficiency savings required. 

Speculation is now turning to whether George Osborne will provide an emergency injection of funds in the Autumn Statement on 25 November. But the long-term question is whether anyone is prepared to offer a sustainable solution to the crisis. Health experts argue that only a rise in general taxation (income tax, VAT, national insurance), patient charges or a hypothecated "health tax" will secure the future of a universal, high-quality service. But the political taboo against increasing taxes on all but the richest means no politician has ventured into this territory. Shadow health secretary Heidi Alexander has today called for the government to "find money urgently to get through the coming winter months". But the bigger question is whether, under Jeremy Corbyn, Labour is prepared to go beyond sticking-plaster solutions. 

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.