I’ve seen my fair share of budget statements over the years. I was going to say ‘digested’ but the fact is that many of them have simply given me acid stomach.
By Tom Jamison
The word that always crops up in analysis after every single one is ‘But’. Let me explain: the main takeaway of interest for disabled people was the much needed and welcomed injection of £650 million in funding for the social care sector – BUT – as was helpfully pointed out by mental health charity, Sense: “There has been a £7bn reduction in adult social care funding since 2010, with an estimated funding gap of £2.5 billion by 2019/20. £650 million represents only a quarter of the money that is needed.”
I need to find out if Treasury staff number monkeys are asking each other the right questions or if, as it so often seems, that they’re simply stuck at a “So if I’ve got four apples in this hand, and take one away…” level of mathematics.
There was also an extra £1bn to help welfare claimants transfer to the new consolidated benefit, Universal Credit, which the Chancellor, digging his heals in insists, irrespective of the controversy is, “here to stay”. Has nobody told him that when a car is shot it’s just not worth buying those new brake pads or shock absorbers or even that novelty gear shift knob – in the shape of Iain Duncan Smith’s head? You’re best to kick it over a cliff and put your money into a new one.
Austerity is “finally coming to an end” apparently – BUT not for you, as Dan Scorer, Head of Policy & Public Affairs at Mencap commented: “This is not an end to austerity for people with a learning disability and their families. £650m for social care is a sticking plaster for a system that teeters on the edge of crisis. Much larger sums are needed to prevent more people with a learning disability becoming isolated in their own homes and struggling to meaningfully take part in society. The Government has started to listen on the huge problems with Universal Credit, ‘BUT’ has done little to address the massive loss of financial support faced by disabled people due to disability premiums being abolished.”
Finally, a commemorative 50p coin to mark the UK’s departure from the EU is to be minted. I’m inclined to guess that it should feature characters from the beloved Brexit cartoon/soap opera we’ve all been glued to over the past year, (since everyone stopped watching Top Gear). Apparently, it’s going to have two faces on it!
BUT it should also be pointed out that its value has dropped some 15% against the Euro since the EU Referendum – so actually it should be a 42.5 pence piece – BUT that’s Treasury mathematics for you.