This year’s Budget was a lower-key affair compared with the Comprehensive Spending Review and Autumn Statement in November. However, there were a number of important announcements relevant to stroke survivors, patients and carers.
The Chancellor announced that he will find an additional £3.5 billion of savings by 2019/20, on top of the considerable cuts already in the pipeline. It’s not yet clear where this £3.5 billion will come from but we are concerned at the potential for local councils’ social care budgets to be put under yet more pressure.
Stroke survivors and their families already struggle with unacceptable gaps and variations in the care available to them after leaving hospital and the huge cuts to local authority funding has not helped the situation.
Also in relation to local government funding, George Osborne said he wants 100% of what local government spends to be raised by local government by 2020. We will look at the finer details of this announcement but it is important that councils in poorer areas are not disadvantaged, particularly as people from the most economically deprived areas of the UK are around twice as likely to have a stroke and three times more likely to die from a stroke than those from the least deprived.
In addition to planned devolution to Greater Manchester and elsewhere announced last year, the Chancellor said East Anglia, West of England and Greater Lincolnshire would also be getting the chance to take more decisions locally, including decisions on health.
There were also welcome announcements of extra funding arising from bank fines for hospitals in Manchester and Sheffield for a new helipad and MRI scanner, both of which could play a part in the quick treatment of stroke patients.
Disability employment reform
The Budget announces that the government is going to accept recommendations from an independent stakeholder group to offer new peer and specialist support for those suffering from mental health conditions and young disabled people.
The Government said that it would “consider the long-term reform of disability benefits and services that is fair for the taxpayer and for those with disabilities or health conditions” but did not expand on exactly what this means for those who rely on disability benefits, which is concerning.
There have been major changes to the UK’s welfare system in recent years and the Stroke Association is on hand to assist stroke survivors and those close to them who have concerns or questions about this or any other issue.
If you want information about stroke then please call our Helpline on 0303 3033 100.