Sheffield Children’s Hospital has been provided with a state-of-the-art MRI scanner to help youngsters with brain tumours – paid for with money taken from banking firms for fraud.
Chancellor George Osborne announced in the Budget that it will help cover the costs of the £2.3million scanner by providing £700,000 to the Sheffield Children’s Hospital Charity.
The cash will come through money raised from banking fines connected to the Libor scandal, in which several prominent banks attempted to manipulate borrowing rates.
The scanner, which is the only one of its kind at a children’s hospital in England, has been in operation at the hospital since January – but money was still needed to pay off the bill.
The technology gives clinicians the best chance of identifying children’s brain tumours to allow them to be removed and save lives.
The announcement comes after lobbying by city MPs Nick Clegg and Paul Blomfield for the Government to provide the support.
David Vernon-Edwards, director of The Children’s Hospital Charity, said: “We are thrilled that the Government is supporting this ground-breaking work.
“We are privileged to be able to give this incredible gift to the hospital, which is already working to change the lives of young people with neurological conditions from across the UK.”
“I would like to personally thank the Chancellor of the Exchequer for supporting our hospital. We can now complete the funding of the 3T MRI scanner and carry on our charitable work towards future projects in order to provide the best possible care for each and every child that walks, is pushed or carried through our doors.”
Mr Clegg said: “This is fantastic news for Sheffield Children’s Hospital and shows the Chancellor has listened to my arguments that all our country’s specialist children’s hospitals get the funding they need.”
The first patient to be screened on the new scanner in January was Ebony Taylor, 16, from Bentley in Doncaster,
She said at the time: “The old MRI scanner made such a horrible noise – I can’t describe it. I was nervous coming to use this one but it was so good. You can hear the TV for a start, it wasn’t as claustrophobic and it was just more relaxing with all the lighting. I am proud that I was able to be the first person to use. It is going to be so important for me and others like me to have the better quality scans.”
Also benefiting locally was the S1 Artspace organisation, provided with £1m towards its plans for a new art complex on the Park Hill estate.
Meanwhile, local schools are set for major changes as plans to turn them all into academies by 2022 were confirmed.
Also revealed by George Osborne was a new £20m-a-year strategy to improve the performance of failing schools across the north of England.
Outstanding school, will ‘mentor’ weaker schools, while a new report on transforming northern schools has been commissioned.
Mr Osborne said: “We can no longer ignore the fact that northern schools are lagging so far behind every other part of Britain and my Budget today address this head on with this pioneering programme.”
“Improving education is a critical part of ensuring the long-term success of the Northern Powerhouse and this is about tackling long-standing performance issues that previous governments have simply ignored.”
Money is also being committed to researching the possibility of building a tunnel below the Peak District to improve connections between Sheffield and Manchester.
In yesterday’s Budget, Mr Osborne also unveiled a new sugary drinks tax to fight childhood obesity, as he blamed a ‘dangerous cocktail’ of risks from the global economy for derailing his fiscal plans.
The independent Office for Budget Responsibility upgraded borrowing forecasts by a total of £56 billion over the coming five years, forcing the Chancellor to announce an additional £3.5 billion in spending cuts to keep alive his hope of hitting his target of getting the nation’s books into surplus by 2019.
Delivering one of his most difficult Budgets yet, the Chancellor was forced to admit that Government debt will rise as a proportion of GDP this year - breaking a key rule he had set himself - and growth forecasts have been sharply revised down.
But Mr Osborne was able to deliver a freeze in fuel duty for the sixth successive year, and gave tax cuts to millions of families by raising the income tax personal allowance to £11,500 and the higher 40p rate to £45,000 next year.
There were also boosts for business, with 600,000 small companies taken out of rates altogether and a cut in corporation tax from 20% to 17% by 2020. And Mr Osborne sought populist applause by freezing duties on beer, spirits and most ciders.
A new Lifetime Isa will help under-40s save for their first homes, with a 25 per cent bonus from the Government on up to £4,000 of savings a year.
But the respected Institute for Fiscal Studies thinktank said that overall the Budget delivered ‘measures that will increase tax revenues and cut spending’.
IFS programme director Gemma Tetlow told BBC Radio 4’s World at One: “The big picture is weaker economic performance meaning that the underlying forecast for borrowing increases really quite significantly”.
The independent Office for Budget Responsibility said that signs of a pick-up in productivity growth which allowed the Chancellor to deliver a sunny Autumn Statement in November had turned out to be a ‘false dawn’, as it downgraded its growth estimates for this year from 2.4 per cent to 2 per cent and next year from 2.4 per cent to 2.2 per cent.
Confirmation that the fiscal rule had been broken came as Mr Osborne revealed that debt was now expected to be 82.6 per cent of GDP in 2016/17 rather than 81.7 per cent. The OBR also pushed up its forecast for 2017/18, from 79.9 per cent to 81.3 per cent, and for 2019-20 from 77.3 per cent to 79.9 per cent.
By 2020-21 it will be 3.4 per cent higher than previously expected at 74.7 per cent.
The deficit - the amount the Government spends above what it takes in - is forecast to fall next year to 2.9 per cent, rather than the 2.5 per cent anticipated before.
Mr Osborne insisted the UK was ‘well placed’ to handle the worldwide slowdown and said that the Government would ‘act now so we don’t pay later’.
Despite the turbulence, Mr Osborne said the Government still expected to record a slightly larger overall surplus by 2019-20 than previously predicted, at £10.4 billion.
“In this Budget we choose the long term,” said the Chancellor.
“We choose to put the next generation first. Sound public finances to deliver security, lower taxes on business and enterprise to create jobs, reform to improve schools, investment to build homes and infrastructure - because we know that’s the only way to deliver real opportunity and social mobility.
“And we know that the best way we can help working people is to help them to save and let them keep more of the money they earn.”
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn described Mr Osborne’s Budget as the culmination of ‘six years of his failures’ and said it had ‘unfairness at its very core’ because it offered Capital Gains Tax cuts for the rich at a time when disabled people are losing benefits.
And Liberal Democrats accused the Chancellor of smuggling in a cut “by the back door” as he revealed public sector employers will have to increase their contributions to unfunded pension schemes - such as those operated for the Army, NHS staff, and teachers.