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Jeremy Hunt receives £14m from sale of business amid NHS crisis

Under-fire Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has pocketed an estimated £14.4 million from the sale of his education company as the NHS plunges into a full-blown crisis.

Mr Hunt's firm Hotcourses, a listings provider, has been sold to Australian outfit IDP Education for £30.1 million.

The cabinet minister holds 48% of the company he co-founded, although he is not thought to play an active part in its day-to-day operation.

The timing of Mr Hunt's multimillion-pound windfall comes during a difficult period for Prime Minister Theresa May, who has been accused of underfunding the NHS.

Earlier this month, NHS chief executive Simon Stevens told MPs it is "stretching it" to say the health service received more money than it asked for.

The NHS Confederation, which represents managers across England, last week said it was time the Government accepted "limited investment" has "consequences".

The Royal College of Physicians has also sounded the alarm bell, warning that vital services are "struggling or failing to cope", fuelling fears that Mr Hunt has lost control of the situation.

Mr Hunt's bumper paycheque will also sit uneasily with Mrs May's pledge to crack down on excessive executive pay.

In July, Mrs May said: "There is an irrational, unhealthy and growing gap between what these companies pay their workers and what they pay their bosses."

A role advertised on its website shows that Hotcourses, which employs 300 people, is offering a basic salary of "up to" £25,000 plus bonus for a sales support role.

The average UK salary is around £28,000.

In addition to the £14.4 million payday, Mr Hunt has earned well over £1 million in dividends from the company since it was founded in 1996.

Mr Hunt said: "I am incredibly proud to have set up a successful business, even prouder of the current Hotcourses team who have taken it from strength to strength, and intend to use a significant proportion of the proceeds to campaign for causes I believe in when I eventually leave frontline politics."

Andrew Barkla, boss of IDP Education, said the deal would provide the firm with "greater international reach" and provide a "one-stop shop for student marketing and recruitment".

Some of Hotcourse's websites include Whatuni, Postgraduate Search and The Complete University Guide.

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