landscape shot of the Houses of ParliamentPhilip Hammond, the Chancellor, delivered the Budget yesterday, setting out the Government’s tax and spending priorities for the year. We explained previously some of the issues that we would be looking out for. 

Here are the main announcements from the Budget affecting autistic people, which include social care, the NHS, mental health, and universal credit:

Social care

As a member of the Care and Support Alliance, a coalition of 90 charities, we have been calling on the Government to increase funding for adult social care to fill a funding gap of around £2.5bn.

The Budget included additional social care funding of £650 million. This includes £240 million that was announced earlier this autumn. The Chancellor also promised a further £410m in 2019-20 for adults and children’s social care. 

While we welcome the additional funding for social care, we are also concerned that what has been announced covers less than a third of the current funding gap. The Government will set out ideas on the future funding of social care later this year. We believe these ideas must tackle the growing social care funding crisis. 

The Government also announced £55m in 2018-19 for the Disabled Facilities Grant which helps some disabled children and adults make changes and adaptations to their homes.

Read the Care and Support Alliance’s full response on their website.

NHS 

The Chancellor reiterated the Government’s plans to increase NHS spending by £20.5bn a year in real terms by 2023-24. 

This is important as the 10-year Long Term Plan announced in the summer includes autism, alongside learning disability, as a clinical priority. While the Budget did not set out how the Government will arrange the overall funding for the NHS, it is crucial that the money is used to ensure autistic people can access to all the health services they need, including diagnosis, mental health support, and that staff understand autism. 

Mental health

As part of the increased spending for the NHS, the Chancellor promised £2bn for mental health care. This includes promises of a mental health crisis centre in every A&E department by 2023-24, and children and young people’s crisis teams in every part of the country.

We welcome increased support for mental health care. Autistic people are more likely to experience mental health problems than people who aren’t on the autism spectrum. This money should be used to make sure that any new mental health services are accessible to autistic people and meet their needs.

Universal Credit

The Chancellor made some changes to Universal Credit, following concerns about how the benefit is being rolled out.

He promised to increase Universal Credit Work Allowances (the amount you are allowed to work, before your benefit is reduced) by £1,000, and said this would mean 2.4 million households will keep an extra £630 a year. The Chancellor also announced a £1 billion package of extra support for claimants during transition to Universal Credit. 

While this will ease pressure on many claimants, we are still concerned about the difficulties that many autistic claimants may face in managing their finances. If you need more information about benefits, please visit our website.

Other announcements

The other significant announcement from the perspective of autistic people and their families was a one-off £400m capital payment for schools to help purchase equipment or cover maintenance costs. We will be watching the Government’s upcoming Spending Review to see whether this will affect SEND schools.

You can find out more about what happened in the Budget and what was announced on the BBC website.