Yesterday we posted a short blog on what we were listening out for in today’s budget. Now that the Budget has happened, we are pleased to say that the Government is starting to listen to us and others around one of our key asks – more money for adult social care in England.
The Chancellor announced a further £2billion in funding for adult social care in England over the next three years. £1billion of this will come this year. This welcome step, which will help plug the gap in adult social care funding across England marks a success for our campaigning with the Care and Support Alliance.
However, it’s a short term fix and we are happy the Government acknowledged this by announcing there will be a ‘Green Paper’ on future social care funding. The Government must make sure that this is taken forward quickly and that it leads to a long term solution.
We know that social care support can be a lifeline for autistic people, helping them to lead fulfilling and rewarding lives. But we know that many autistic people aren’t getting the help they need from their local council. We will continue to campaign for more funding for care to be spent on support that can most benefit autistic adults.
We had hoped that the Government would take the opportunity today to step back from its misjudged decision to cut ESA for new claimants in the Work Related Activity Group by £30 a week. However, there was no mention of this in the Budget. We believe that this policy could seriously impact autistic people and to let this go forward would be a mistake. We are still calling on the Government to think again and halt this change before it comes into force on 1 April.
The Government also recently announced some changes to Personal Independence Payment (PIP). We are concerned that these proposals could lead to some autistic people not being able to get out and about. As a result they could become socially isolated, unable to visit family or get to work. The Budget confirmed this change, but we will continue to call for it to be reversed.
The Government announced a £216m pot of capital funding for school maintenance (e.g. building repairs and improvements). News stories before the budget had suggested that this money could be earmarked for SEN schools, but the pot announced today appears to be for all schools. This is still good news, but we know that parents of children on the spectrum often want their child to attend a school with more specialist autism knowledge, but struggle to find one.
The Budget also announced £320m over the course of this Parliament to expand Free Schools further, which might include some autism specific free schools.
Mark Lever, Chief Executive of The National Autistic Society, said:
Today’s announcement of £2 billion in the next three years for social care is a welcome step. This will help plug the gap in adult social care funding across England. However, it isn’t a long term solution.
“Social care is a lifeline for many autistic people who need help to do things like washing, cooking or going out into their community. But we know lots of autistic people aren’t receiving this vital care and support. Local councils across England have been struggling to fund services for autistic people, and have been calling for much needed investment to ease the deepening crisis in social care.
“Today’s announcement will help address the immediate crisis. But it’s not a long-term solution. The Government must also make sure that the Green Paper announced today about future funding leads to a sustainable social care system.
“Despite the welcome funding for social care, we were disappointed that the Government did not take the opportunity to correct its misjudged decision to cut Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) for new claimants in the Work Related Activity Group by £30 a week. We believe this cut would seriously affect autistic people who are not currently able to work, by reducing the money they receive for covering basic living costs like food, heating and clothing. We urge them to rethink this cut before it comes into action on 1 April.”
If you would like to find out more about the rest of the Budget, this BBC News article gives an overview.
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