Versus Arthritis response to the Autumn Statement18 November 2022
Yesterday (On Thursday 17th November) the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Jeremy Hunt MP, outlined the government’s plans for tax and spending for the next year and further into the future.
A wide range of announcements were made including on the NHS, benefits, the cost of energy and on research – things we know really matter to you.
The statement was mostly about England, although some announcements were made about extra money for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
So, what do we make of it all?
More funding for the NHS
An extra £3.3 billion has been announced for the NHS in each of the next two years which was more than any other government department – an encouraging sign that the government recognises the support our health services need given the huge impact of the pandemic.
However, this does falls short of the £7 billion we think is needed to support our healthcare professionals to provide the best possible care for you. But this additional money will still help and we’re keen to ensure it’s used to address the most important issues to you including reducing waiting times for joint replacements and getting access to physio therapy more quickly.
An additional £1 billion has also been announced for social care in the coming year. This is welcome although we’re frustrated to see proper reform of the social care system being delayed – something we’ll continue to campaign for with our friends at the Care and Support Alliance.
A welcome workforce plan
We’re pleased with the commitment to produce an NHS workforce plan, the first of its kind in this country, to ensure we are training enough doctors, nurses and NHS professionals to deliver the care and support you need. This is something we and other health charities have been pushing for over the last few years.
Issues around staffing are one of the biggest threats to the NHS being able to provide you with the best possible care both now and in the future. There are huge numbers of vacancies (over 100,000 at the moment) and as need grows our NHS workforce needs to grow too. It will be important that the government support this plan with further investment in training places to fill this NHS workforce gap.
We look forward to working with the Government to feed into the plan help ensure it meets the needs of people living with arthritis.
We also cautiously welcome the move to increase benefits by 10.1%. This change has the potential to provide vital support to some of the people who need it most, particularly as the cost of living and energy prices increase.
However, we are concerned to see this change will only come into effect from April 2023 which will mean from now until then, many of the most vulnerable people living with arthritis will not be getting the help they need. This is despite the fact that many people living with arthritis face additional costs associated with their condition and so may be disproportionately affected by rising prices.
We want to see the Government implement the benefits uplift as soon as possible to protect people with arthritis at this challenging time.
More support for people with arthritis?
New cost-of-living payments of £900 have been announced for people in receipt of means-tested benefits and £150 for people getting disability benefit. The government also announced an extra £1bn for local councils to help those struggling in their area. This will help some but we’re worried that many people with arthritis will fall through the gaps and continue to face additional financial hardship because of their health condition.
We’re disappointed that the Government hasn’t gone further with their protections for people living with arthritis during this cost-of-living crisis, not least because many people with arthritis find cold weather has a negative impact on their joints and pain levels.
Make your voice heard
We’ve heard from you just how challenging things are for you at the moment and we know that many of you are worried about the cost of heating your homes this winter.
That’s why we’re calling on the Government to do more for people with arthritis.
We want eligibility for the Warm Homes Discount to be expanded and for increased support to be offered to people who need additional heating to maintain their health.
We’ll continue to strongly make the case for this extra support, and you can help by signing our letter to the Prime Minister calling for the Government not to abandon people with arthritis this winter.
Support for you
We know just how nerve-wracking it can be if you are dealing with money worries.
So, if you are struggling to cope with the cost-of-living crisis, remember you don’t have to face these problems alone.
No matter what you are dealing with, you can talk to us.
Need a listening ear?
You can call our Helpline Monday -Friday, 9am - 6pm.
Share your experience
Connect with real people who share the same everyday experiences.
Cost of living advice
Read our advice online on how to reduce the cost of living for people with arthritis.