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Tory plans to cut the deficit will lead to NHS charging, claims Ed Balls

Conservative Party proposals for cutting the UK’s budget deficit will be impossible to achieve without introducing charging for NHS services, the Labour Party has claimed.

In a speech today, shadow chancellor Ed Balls called on chancellor George Osborne to ‘come clean’ on how he hopes to create a £23bn surplus while pledging to protect NHS funding.

He suggested Mr Osborne’s plans would require budget cuts of £70bn, which would necessitate introducing charging for healthcare services.

At the Conservative Party conference in October last year, Prime Minister David Cameron pledged that ‘not a penny’ of the NHS budget will be cut untill 2020 if his party are re-elected in May.

But Mr Balls said: ‘An unprecedented £70 billion of spending cuts which would be deeply destructive and close to impossible, even for this Chancellor. So George Osborne must surely have an alternative plan in his back pocket.

‘The evidence is clear – countries which reduce public spending at the pace George Osborne intends have found they have had no alternative but to cut health spending.

‘And those who have reduced public spending to the levels that George Osborne is seeking have health systems where charging for services is triple the share here. ‘  

He added: ‘If David Cameron and George Osborne cannot spell out how their sums add up for non-protected departments in order to achieve their fiscal surplus, the British people can only conclude – and would be right to conclude – that alternative plans do exist: to cut NHS spending and introduce charging.’

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