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Government spending watchdog challenges NHS funding claims

Theresa May’s claim that the extra £20bn-a-year for the NHS will be funded by a “Brexit dividend” is being challenged by parliament’s spending watchdog.

The public accounts committee is warning that any cash boost that might come in the wake of the UK’s exit from the European Union is several years away. The MPs also conclude that the Brexit divorce bill for the UK will be at least £10bn higher than the £35bn-£39bn figure put forward by the prime minister.

The UK will pay an extra £3bn more in budget contributions as well as an additional £2.9bn to the European Development Fund, MPs warned.

The committee said the way the settlement was calculated meant some of the UK’s liabilities would not be known until 2022, when the final tally will be made of Britain’s budget contributions for 2014 to 2020, based on national income over that period.

While the Treasury estimated that 60% of the settlement would be paid off by the end of 2021, the committee said payments to meet Britain’s estimated £8.6bn liability for its share of EU staff pensions and post-employment sickness benefits could run to “at least 2064”.

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