What the autumn statement means for disabled people
After today’s statement by the chancellor about taxes and spending, Georgina – who leads on research for Sense – breaks down what it might mean for you if you’re disabled.
If you’re not immersed in the world of politics like I am, announcements like Jeremy Hunt’s today can be a bit baffling. Here’s a jargon-free explainer of what the Chancellor announced, what it might mean for you, and how we rate the action he’s taken.
We’ll cover off the four main areas affecting disabled people: social care, benefits, the cost of living and public services. Let’s take them one by one.
There’ll be more money for social care
Hunt announced £1 billion more money for social care this year and £1.7 billion next year in extra funding.
This matters because the extra cash will help improve and sustain social care now and in the future. Social care has lacked the funding it needs, and this starts to address the problem.
But it’ll only work if we have a social care system that reflects and meets the needs of all disabled people . Right now, not enough disabled people get the care they need. Social care is seen as a support to the NHS rather than helping people live their lives.
Most people don’t realise that working age adults make up one third of the people in adult social care. And half of the money local authorities spend on adult social care goes towards supporting working age people. So it’ll be important for any new money to reach those people.
While this is encouraging news – and it’s good to see social care as a key priority by the chancellor – there’s still a long way to go before the problem is fixed.
Benefits are increasing in line with inflation
The government has committed to increasing benefits in line with the current rate of inflation. This means an increase of 10.1% in benefits from April 2023. We’ve been calling this for months as part of our cost of living campaign – so if you’re one of the thousands of people who have signed our petition: thank you!
It is important that benefits keep pace with inflation because people on the lowest incomes are the most impacted by inflation driving the rising cost of living. Yet we need more action to make sure we have a benefits system that works for disabled people – with benefits set at a rate that helps disabled people live more meaningful lives – particularly in the wake of the increased cost of living.
There’s more (and changing) support for the higher cost of living
The government committed to continue to help households with high energy costs. But their plans have changed from what was previously announced.
The energy price guarantee – where the government subsidises energy to limit how much each unit of energy can cost you – will carry on, but it’ll cost people more than before. Whereas previously, an average household would pay £2,500 for energy each year, from April 2023, the average household will pay £3,000.
The government will give people on benefits who are of working age an extra £900 cost of living payment, and people on disability benefit will get an extra £150.
Although it’s good that that government will continue its support, we need a dedicated plan to support disabled households with rising energy costs long-term, which should include more targeted support.
There’ll be cuts to public services
The chancellor also announced that government spending will increase at a slower rate over the next 5 years and not keep pace with inflation (which means that in reality, there’ll be no more money for government departments to spend). So though we don’t have the details yet, we need to keep an eye out for spending cuts.
It’s not all bad news, as there have been additional announcements of funding for education, the NHS, and as I mentioned earlier, social care.
We’ll be keeping up the pressure on the government
We’ll be busy keeping an eye on how today’s announcements work in reality. And right now, as I type, we’re reading through all the small print to better understand the details of what Jeremy Hunt announced this morning.
Once we’re done, we’ll be speaking up for people with complex disabilities in our chats with decision makers. And we’ll be continuing to put pressure on the government to make sure they support disabled people during the cost of living crisis.
Play your part
Add your name to our petition demanding more support for disabled people in the cost of living crisis.