The comprehensive spending review and the Autumn budget offer a key opportunity to hear about the current state of the economy, and get details on the Government's spending plans for the next four years.
But for people living with a disability like multiple sclerosis (MS), the budget lacked detail and left a large amount of uncertainty.
George Osborne has stated he will cut £12billion from the welfare budget. But with yesterday's announcement that cuts to tax credits will be scrapped, where will this money come from? Previous changes to disability benefits have led people with MS to cut down on essential food, heating and attending hospital appointments. We don't want to see that happen again. Our MS Enough campaign is working to change that; sign our petition.
The commitment to invest an additional £10billion to the NHS over the next five years is clearly very welcome, but in the same amount of time, the NHS faces the challenge of delivering £22billion in efficiency savings.
Where will the £10billion go? A recent review by the National Audit Office (link) suggested neurology services were in need of more funding. These are the services that will ensure people with MS get the right treatment at the right time. Our Treat Me Right campaign is working to make that happen.
For years, social care has been woefully underfunded. Yesterday, the Chancellor announced local councils will be able to raise taxes by 2% to pay for social care in their area. However, this is unlikely to raise enough money to plug the widening national funding gap, growing by £700million every year.
We were disappointed to hear that the funding saved by delaying the introduction of the cap on care costs was not fully reinstated to support the sector.
While there were a few glimmers of hope in the Chancellor's speech, they are not enough to allay the uncertainty and fears for many people with MS. Access to disability benefits, the right healthcare and social care support is crucial if people are to live fulfilling lives and the Government must ensure this is a reality for all with MS.
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