What that extra £2.1bn of no-deal Brexit spending could buy

After nearly a decade of austerity, the Tory government’s magic money tree is in full bloom. 

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The government appears to have picked a figure that sounds big enough to look impressive on the Telegraph front page to boast about its no-deal Brexit planning.

It’s £2.1bn, which isn’t really very much for a government. How much is really enough to prepare for the unknown? Can you even put a figure on that?

Yet it’s a hell of a lot for other areas of spending, which have been neglected due to nearly a decade of austerity. Conservative governments have refused to magic the money for spending when it’s not electorally expedient, but can clearly spend when they want to.

So here’s what it could help:

Social care: £1.5bn

In February, the Local Government Association estimated that adult social care services face a £1.5bn funding gap by 2019/20.

Council funding: £3.2bn

Councils face an overall funding gap of £3.2bn in 2019/20, so they could use at least £2.1bn…

Removing flammable cladding: £1.2bn

The bill that could hit homeowners in 70,000 flats to remove flammable cladding and insulation banned since Grenfell, according to The Times. (The government has committed £600m to removing Grenfell-type cladding on private residential and social housing tower blocks.)

Over 100,000 new nurses: £2.4bn

Nurse shortages cost the NHS up to £2.4bn in 2017 – enough money for more than 108,000 newly-qualified nurses in full-time staff positions, according to the Telegraph.

Funding schools: £2bn a year

Last October, the F40 group of education authorities claimed schools are underfunded by £2bn a year, according to TES.

Tens of thousands of low-cost homes: £2bn

Last year, Theresa May pledged £2bn for “tens of thousands” of new social and affordable housing from 2022 onwards. We need more than that – three million new social homes in England over the next 20 years, according to Shelter.

Anoosh Chakelian is senior writer at the New Statesman.