In the Budget statement made on 8 July, the Chancellor introduced a number of measures which will have big effect on disabled and disadvantaged people. Stephen Springer, Policy Advisor for Livability shares his thoughts on the budget announcements.
The £12 billion ‘cuts’ to the welfare expenditure is still of concern, but we are pleased that the time over which the reduction will be made has been extended from three years to four.
We also welcome the exemption for benefits paid to disabled people, notably Personal Independence Payment, Disability Living Allowance and Employment Support Allowance support groups and are pleased that these will not be frozen.
We are concerned by remarks made by the Chancellor about the Employment Support Allowance Work Related Activity Group that would seem to suggest a restriction and freeze from 2016/17.
On Health he confirmed:
We welcome this renewed commitment to “Future View” – NHS England’s five year plan. This plan sets out how the health service needs to change, bringing more engaged relationships with patients, carers and citizens in order to promote wellbeing and prevent ill-health.
Whilst this presents opportunities to bring greater choice and independence to disabled and disadvantaged people in their communities, we are concerned that there may be a shortfall in the funding available to achieve the necessary improvements around the integration of health and social care.
It is therefore important that funding for social care is addressed in the Spending Review this autumn.
We welcome the new National Living Wage which will start at £ 7.20 per hour next April for workers aged 25 years and over. This will be very important for those working in the care sector.
But while this will represent a 10% increase on the current level of the National Minimum Wage it is substantially below the current Living Wage as calculated by the Living Wage Foundation (£7.85 nationally, £9.15 in London).
With a 1% limit in Public Sector pay, this increase has the potential to have a negative impact social care provision.
We note that there will be a new welfare reform bill published in July and we will review this in detail.
Stephen Springer MBE
Policy Advisor at Livability
Stephen became disabled in June 1991 following a Road Traffic Accident in which he sustained a spinal cord injury. Stephen was awarded the MBE for his work improving accessibility in the hospitality sector.