Chancellor’s emergency statement October 2022
Today the new Chancellor, Jeremy Hunt MP, gave a statement outlining changes to economic policy. This statement reversed a large number of announcements made during the mini-budget a month ago. Sense has previously outlined our concerns on the mini-budget as it did little to address the cost of living crisis for disabled people.
What was said
Whilst the majority of today’s announcements were focused on taxation, the Chancellor also reversed the pledge to freeze the unit cost for energy. Initially set to run for two years, this pledge will now run only until April 2023.
At Sense we hear from many families who raise with us the challenges they face with rising energy costs. Too many carers like Keith are having to make difficult decisions between running essential equipment and paying for food. Whilst freezing the energy unit cost didn’t address the issue of disabled people and families having higher energy usage, hearing that protections around this are to end will no doubt bring uncertainty and anxiety to many.
Alongside the changes to plans to cap energy unit cost, the Chancellor announced there will be a Treasury review looking at how to support people with their bills from April 2023. He said this review will focus on support for the most vulnerable. This is something that we at Sense welcome as we’ve been calling for targeted support for energy costs for disabled people and their families. We are now waiting for further details on this, and we’ll be working to ensure that the needs of disabled people are considered in the review.
What wasn’t said
Whilst much was announced today, there were also many notable gaps. We also mustn’t gloss over the points the Chancellor made around needing to review public spending. This will undoubtedly bring fresh concerns for many.
Over the past few weeks we’ve seen rumours of the government backtracking on a previous commitment to uprate benefits in line with inflation. We are still no closer to clarity on this and need to see this urgently addressed. In this cost of living crisis we mustn’t abandon those in our society who are on the lowest incomes, who can’t work and face the greatest inequalities.
Much of these challenges come against the backdrop of pressure on many public services. The social care system remains in crisis with many not able to access the vital care and support that they need. Carers are providing round the clock support without respite. Parents can’t get access to the childcare support they need for their disabled child so that they can work.
The cost of living crisis is wider than energy costs and we must see urgent steps to recognise this.
What happens next?
At Sense we still have a lot of concerns about how people with complex disabilities will be supported this winter. With the Chancellor due to announce his next tranche of economic plans on 31st this is a key moment.
We will be looking to the Chancellor to make specific commitments to tackle the cost of living crisis for disabled people. This includes:
- Raising benefits in line with inflation.
- Providing targeted support for people with higher energy usage.
- Ensuring there is tailored support for disabled children and their families.
Alongside this we need to see renewed commitments to support adult social care and the wider support that disabled people and their families rely on to live their lives.