The Chancellor, Rishi Sunak yesterday [Wed, 23 March] set out a series of measures in his Spring Statement.
Today’s announcements come amid a deepening cost of living crisis that is squeezing the incomes of people across the U.K. – and having a disproportionate impact on disabled people.
The key announcements in the Statement included:
- Fuel duty will be cut for only the second time in 20 years, by 5p a litre for a full 12 months.
- Household support fund doubled to £1bn to support councils to make one-off relief payments to those in need.
- VAT rate for households installing solar panels, heat pumps or insulation cut from 5% to zero.
- A 1.25% National Insurance contribution hike to go ahead later this year.
- But the National Insurance contributions threshold will be increased in line with personal income tax allowance of £12,750.
- Basic rate of income tax to be cut by 1% (to 19%) in 2024.
Caudwell Children’s Chief Executive, Trudi Beswick, has responded to the Chancellor’s statement by calling for more direct support for disabled people.
Caudwell Children CEO, Trudi Beswick, said:
It’s impossible to avoid the rising cost of living in the U.K.
At Caudwell Children we see it every single day in the conversations we have with worried and frustrated families that are supported by our Warm Homes service.
The people we support through Warm Homes are all parents of disabled children. They know that it’s more expensive to run a household if someone in your family is disabled.
Often hundreds of pounds a month more expensive if you use life-saving equipment such as a ventilator or feeding pump – or if you rely on an electric wheelchair.
So it’s disappointing that today’s Statement did not acknowledge disabled people directly in any way.
With rising energy prices, increasing fuel and food costs, and a real-terms cut to benefit levels due to hit in April, disabled people need extra support.
An estimated 400,000 disabled children in the U.K. live in poverty. Inflation levels jumped to 6% this week, so it’s very likely that number will rise without further support.
The changes to National Insurance thresholds, supporting councils to make one-off relief payments, and a reduction to fuel duty will help a little, but it’s not the targeted support that people tell us they need.
There’s only so much we can do through services like Warm Homes.
With more unprecedented energy prices increases predicted, it’s vital that:
- extra financial support is offered for disabled people in fuel-poor households, and
- the benefits that disabled people receive are lifted to match inflation levels.
Caudwell Children and other charities stand ready to support disabled children and the families in every way that we can, but it’s clear that today’s Statement does not go far enough to shield them from the soaring cost of living.
We hope the Chancellor will reconsider urgently.