At the start of the year the Chancellor was clear that the economy is not out of the woods yet – ‘it’s far too soon to say: job done’. The Budget gives him the opportunity to put some meat on these bones and deliver one of the most important speeches in the long election campaign.
As he reveals what this ‘year of hard truths’ will entail, the focus will be on his ‘strategy for growth’.
There is a huge opportunity for disabled people to be part of this strategy. Scope has called on the Chancellor to put disabled people at the heart of the economic recovery to meet his own aspiration of making a ‘strong and fair economy’.
We will be looking for his red box to contain some of the following to make this a reality:
A Commitment to covering the extra costs of being a disabled person
Disabled people’s ability to pay their way and be financially secure is hampered by various extra costs. The Personal Independence Payment (PIP) is designed to help meet some of these costs.
- We want to see the Chancellor protect the value of PIP by taking it out of the new cap on Annually Managed Expenditure.
- The Chancellor can tackle these extra costs head on by announcing an innovation fund that looks to drive down the extra cost.
Action to get disabled people into work
By 2020, there will be an increase in the number of disabled people looking for work. Following reassessment of Incapacity Benefits claimants, between March 2011 and March 2013, there are at least 650,000 more disabled people are seeking work.
To help them find jobs, the Chancellor needs to:
- Make regional growth strategies work for disabled people.
- Give disabled people personal budgets to spend on back to work support.
The Care Bill has completed its passage through Parliament – but one crucial issue still remains: funding. The Care System remains chronically underfunded, and for the Bill to be the legacy legislation that the Government intended, it needs to be matched with the right investment.
- The Government introduced the ‘Better Care Fund’ in June last year. The Chancellor needs to commit to extend this Investment every year.
- Piloting a community budget approach to care integration for disabled people – bringing together care, health and employment support.
The Minister for Disabled People, Mike Penning, will be in Manchester on Wednesday as part of the Government’s Disability Confident Campaign – and I hope the Chancellor’s Budget gives him every opportunity to say just how the Government will make sure that disabled people are at the heart of the economic recovery.