The Budget outlines the Government’s financial priorities for the year and the UK’s economic situation. It makes changes to policies on taxation, such as more or less tax or ‘duty’ on petrol. It can also make changes to different department’s budgets. For example, if the economy is doing well, the Budget could give more money to education and schools. More information on how the Budget works can be found on Parliament’s website.
This year’s Budget will take place this Wednesday 8 March from around 12:30. But what will Chancellor Philip Hammond’s first Budget mean for people on the autism spectrum?
Our charity is deeply concerned about the Government’s recently proposed changes to the Personal Independence Payment (PIP) assessment criteria.
We think the Government should drop these changes and the Budget represents it’s first opportunity to do so. As these changes are analysed in Parliament we will be working with organisations like the Disability Benefits Consortium to ask the Government to think again.
This year’s Budget also presents the final opportunity for the Government to reverse their cuts to the amount of money people will receive in Employment and Support Allowance’s Work Related Activity Group (ESA WRAG). The cut will mean new ESA WRAG applicants will get £30 per week less than they would have previously. Our charity signed an open letter to Philip Hammond asking the Government to make a last minute decision to change course.
The National Autistic Society is a member of the Care and Support Alliance (CSA), a coalition of 90 charities campaigning for more money for social care. For autistic people, social care may pay for daily support to get out and about in the community, support to get up in the morning, help with washing, cooking or cleaning or residential care. Our Careless campaign was successful in ensuring that the criteria for getting social care support in England better reflected the needs autistic people have (eg help to develop or maintain relationships). In addition, as a result of the Autism Act 2009, those assessing autistic people’s needs should have training in autism.
However, a lack of investment in care has meant that lots of autistic people are still not getting the help they need. More widely, at least 1.2 million older people and disabled people do not receive the care they need, a 48% increase since 2010, and the CSA has asked the Chancellor for “at least” £1billion a year to stop the crisis in social care from getting any worse.
The CSA has also asked the Government for a review that looks at the long-term funding of social care and has asked the Government to ensure that the voices of people who use social care are a part of any review.
Our charity will be looking to ensure that the voices of people on the spectrum are a part of any review into social care funding.
Over the weekend the Government announced that there would be additional money in the Budget for improvements to Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) facilities in schools. This money can be used to increase the numbers of SEND school places and other improvements to classroom facilities.
Our charity will be looking for more detail on this positive news when the full Budget is announced on Wednesday.
We will be live tweeting the Budget announcements using our @NASCampaigns account and will also post a short blog about any significant changes on our website.
If you’d like to hear more about the campaigning we do to ensure autistic people and their families get the support they need, head to the campaigns section and sign up for updates.