The Chancellor Philip Hammond has delivered the Spring Budget today. In this blog we look at the impact the budget will have on disabled people across the country.
Ahead of today we were calling for sustainable investment in social care, a reversal of the reduction in financial support for those in the Employment and Support Allowance Work Related Activity Group (ESA WRAG) and for Government to think again on changes to Personal Independence Payments (PIP).
The Budget contained some positive news for disabled people on social care yet we were disappointed by the Government’s failure to mention, let alone reconsider, upcoming changes to disability benefits.
Following calls from disabled people, charities, MPs and local councils, the Government has provided a cash injection of £2 billion for social care over the next three years.
We hope this is good news for the 400,000 working age disabled people who rely on social care for assistance with everyday tasks such as cooking and getting dressed.
We were really disappointed when there was no further funding announced for social care in the Autumn Statement and so we are pleased that the Government has listened to calls for urgent funding.
The care system has been under immense financial strain over the past few years, with the adult social care budget reduced by £4.6 billion since 2010. £1 billion of new funding will be available this year, yet the King’s Fund has predicted the funding gap for this period will be nearly twice that at £1.9 billion.
The Government also today announced a Green Paper on social care, we will be campaigning to make sure this consultation and following action focuses on how the social care system will provide the support and outcomes important to disabled people.
PIP is intended to help disabled people cover some of the extra costs they face as a result of their disability, on average, £550 a month. Therefore we think it is vital PIP focuses on the extra costs disabled people actually face, and not their impairment or condition. We are concerned about the Government’s move to tighten up access to PIP and have been speaking to Ministers and MPs about our concerns since the legislation was announced.
We wanted to see the Government use the Budget to reconsider this change and take the opportunity to review the PIP assessment process. Our helpline has seen a 542 per cent increase in calls relating to PIP over the last year, with many people successfully appealing their original decision.
We are disappointed the Government intends to go ahead with these changes, and will keep raising our concerns with Government.
The Government has made a welcome commitment to halve the disability employment gap and we’ve been working hard over the last year to set out the reforms needed for disabled people both in and out of work to help make this goal a reality.
However, next month new claimants in the ESA WRAG will see a £30 a week reduction in their financial support. We don’t think that this will help disabled people find work and have been campaigning against these changes since they were first announced. Disabled people are already less financially resilient than non-disabled people, with an average of £108,000 fewer savings and assets. A reduction in financial support could end up creating an additional barrier to work.
We are concerned the Government are pressing ahead with this reduction. Having missed the opportunity to halt the reduction in the Budget, we, alongside other disability charities, will continue to push for this to happen before the change takes effect.
The Prime Minister has set out her vision of a country that works for everyone, yet following this Budget there is much more that needs to be done to include specific needs of disabled people in that vision. We’ll continue campaigning on all of these issues and more to make this case.