Chancellor Philip Hammond presented the UK government’s 2017 Spring Budget on 8 March. The chancellor covered the government’s plans for funding in a number of key areas including pensions, education, health and social care.
One of the biggest changes highlighted in the news that result from the budget will be a higher national insurance tax for people who are self-employed. Another key part of the budget is that the government is proposing to put £2bn extra into adult social care.
However, there was no mention of the cuts to certain benefits which are key to people with long-term conditions like epilepsy. The chancellor did not address cuts to Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) or the recent restrictions to Personal Independence Payments (PIP).
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn referred to PIP in his response to the chancellor. But the government’s budget does not appear to take into consideration the recent criticisms over the changes to PIP or the cuts to ESA.
Missing out on benefits
Epilepsy Action has released a statement criticising the lack of attention the government has paid to these benefits. The statement says the government has “failed disabled people and people with long-term health conditions by refusing to stop the cuts to disability benefits”.
Epilepsy Action believes that the cuts to the ESA benefit will have a negative impact on the lives of people with conditions like epilepsy. The charity added in its statement that these cuts work against the government’s commitment to cut the disability unemployment gap by half.
The statement also criticised the fact that the government did not appear to have reconsidered tightening the PIP assessment criteria. “These changes could see people with epilepsy denied access to financial support,” the statement said.
Philip Lee, chief executive of Epilepsy Action, said “We have long felt that the assessment process for both ESA and PIP are ineffective and inadequate. Neither assessment is able to assess or reflect what it is like to live with epilepsy. Both are failing people with epilepsy, and with further changes to PIP, many more people with epilepsy will miss out on this benefit.
“We hoped that the Spring Budget would bring hope for people with epilepsy who find themselves needing financial support. Unfortunately, the government have chosen to continue to penalise disabled people and those with a long-term health condition.”
For more information on Epilepsy Action's statement and to share your views, join the discussion on Facebook.
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