Tag Archives: the budget

Scope’s hopes for the 2016 Budget

Wednesday’s Budget will be George Osborne’s fifth set piece financial statement in the last 16 months. In this blog we look at the three key issues we hope the government will address: PIP and extra costs, disability employment, and social care.

A few weeks ago, the Chancellor said the UK economy is smaller than expected this year. On the Andrew Marr show he confirmed that he is looking to find additional savings equivalent to 50p in every £100 the government spends.

In the same interview the Chancellor also defended the Government’s decision to introduce new restrictions to the Personal Independence Payment (PIP) assessment, aimed at saving £1.2bn.

It is against this backdrop that the Chancellor will make his statement.

We will be looking closely at what the Budget will mean for disabled people in three key areas.

PIP and Extra costs

Last week – just days before the Budget – the Government announced new restrictions to the PIP assessment. These are expected to impact upon 640,000 people and the Government estimates that it will save £1.2bn.

This announcement was the result of a Government consultation which looked at how disabled people are awarded PIP for aids and appliances. Scope research shows that life costs more if you are disabled. Disabled people spend an average of £550 a month on disability related costs.

We’ve expressed our concern about the impact that these changes will have on disabled people who rely on PIP to help meet the extra costs of disability.

At the same time, the Government announced it is considering the case for long term reform of disability benefits and services.
We will be looking closely at what the Chancellor has to say about these plans. Any reforms must guarantee disabled people the support they need to live their lives.

We will also be looking for the Chancellor to take action to drive down the extra costs disabled people face. This was the focus of the Extra Costs Commission, an independent inquiry facilitated by Scope that reported last year.

In the run up to the one year anniversary of the ECC final report in June, we hope the Chancellor will be able to take forward ECC recommendations in his statement.

Disability employment

In the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement in November last year, he announced that 2016 would see a new ‘White Paper’ focused on how to support more disabled people into work and fulfill the Government’s commitment to halve the disability employment gap.

There is even greater pressure on the Government to deliver this since the Welfare Reform and Work Bill has all but completed its passage through Parliament, introducing a £30 per week cut in the rate of Employment Support Allowance (ESA) paid to disabled people who are in the Work Related Activity Group from April 2017.

Whilst the White Paper has yet to be published, he could be expected to give some further detail on how the £100 million fund for disability employment support (announced in the Chancellor’s last Budget) will be spent. We will also be watching for any more detail on the new Work and Health Programme, which is to be targeted at supporting disabled people to find work.

We will be looking to see if the Chancellor will set out how these funds will be effectively used and joined up to get disabled job seekers into work.

Social care

Social care was rightly a major area of focus for the Chancellor in his CSR statement. A third of social care users are working age disabled people, and they account for around half the social care budget. Social care has a vital role to play in enabling working age disabled people to live independently.

In the run up to the CSR, Scope published research on disabled people’s experiences of social care. Only 18 per cent of social care users said services consistently support them to live as independently as possible. 55 per cent said social care never supports their independence.

The Chancellor’s CSR announcements of a council tax precept that councils can charge to fund social care, and expansion of the Government’s Better Care Fund – to create better integration between health and social care, are therefore welcome. But, it is vital that the impact of this additional funding is properly monitored to see that the needs of working age disabled people are being met.

We will be live tweeting during the Chancellor’s statement, and look out for a further blog post on what is announced on Wednesday. 

The Budget 2015 – The announcements we’ll be looking for

On Wednesday the Chancellor George Osborne will deliver the last budget of this Parliament with some commentators arguing that with this statement “the general election will kick off in earnest”.

There has been a lot of speculation about the Chancellor’s statement and here at Scope we will be following the Budget closely to see what it will mean for disabled people and their families. We’ll be looking out for announcements in the following three areas:

Halving the disability employment gap

A key theme of the Chancellor’s speech is expected to be jobs and growth.

We know that disabled people want the same opportunities to work as everyone else and nine in ten disabled people are in work or have worked in the past. But for the Chancellor to achieve his aim of “full employment”, more must be done to address the disability employment gap.

Access to Work supports disabled people to stay in work and progress in their careers. The Chancellor could strengthen Access to Work, to make sure more disabled people can benefit.

He could build upon the Minister for Disabled People’s welcome announcement last week about the introduction of personal budgets for Access to Work. This will give disabled people more control over how they access the support which enables them to work.

However, we are concerned about new proposals to cap the amount of funding each individual can receive through Access to Work. A cap could mean that disabled employees, such as those who require British Sign Language interpreters, could lose their support and would be unable to continue working.

We’ll also be looking to the Chancellor to use his focus on regional growth to create programmes specifically aimed at improving employment rates amongst disabled people.

Protection of DLA and PIP

Life can cost more if you are disabled. The extra costs faced by disabled people can have a significant impact on disabled people’s living standards, who spend on average £550 per month on costs related to their disability. Disability Living Allowance (DLA) and Personal Independence Payment (PIP) are payments that are designed to contribute towards these extra costs.

Welfare spending is also likely to be a key theme of the Budget. Last year the Chancellor announced in his speech at the Conservative Party Conference that a future Conservative Government would protect DLA and PIP in any freeze on benefits. We’ll be looking to the Chancellor to commit to this in the Budget.

This month’s Extra Cost’s Commission interim report highlighted the need to tackle the underlying drivers of the extra costs disabled people face. One area that the Commission identified was the need to improve online access for disabled people. Thirty per cent of disabled people have never used the internet, compared to seven percent of non-disabled people. This prevents disabled people accessing appropriate financial products and getting some of the best deals on goods and services.

Anything the Chancellor announces to improve digital inclusion should consider how to support more disabled people to get online.

Investment in social care

Social care supports disabled people to live independently, work and play an active part in the community.

With the Budget taking place just two weeks before the landmark Care Act comes into force, The Chancellor must take steps to introduce a sustainable funding settlement for social care.

Much focus has been placed on whether the Chancellor will commit to investing £2bn per year in the NHS, as set out in NHS England’s Five Year Forward View. However, investment in the NHS cannot be looked at in isolation from social care funding. Last week the Care and Support Alliance published the findings of a survey of over 800 English GPs which found that almost nine in ten believe reductions in social care services have contributed to pressures in their surgeries.

The Chancellor should use his final Budget before the election to prioritise investment in the social care system so that the ambition set out in the Government’s Care Act in this Parliament can be realised in the next.