On Wednesday 15 March, Chancellor Jeremy Hunt announced the new Spring Budget for 2023, and with it, some measures that are likely to have a particular effect on people with epilepsy.
First of all, the Chancellor confirmed that the energy price guarantee will be extended until June. This will save the typical household around £500 per year on their energy bills. This follows Epilepsy Action joining Martin Lewis and Money Saving Expert to call for the Chancellor to extend this important help for households. More than 135 charities took part in the cause. While the scheme is due to end by July, it is expected that by then, energy prices will have fallen back to lower levels.
The Chancellor also announced a new scheme to support people with disabilities in finding work. More details on this new plan will follow, but it will hopefully help people with epilepsy get into work, as currently only 42% of people with epilepsy are in employment, and their economic inactivity rate is one of the highest among other disabilities.
With the new Universal Support scheme for people with disabilities and/or health conditions, up to £4,000 will be spent per person to help them find a suitable role and support them in employment.
The new scheme includes work coach support to deliver more individualised support for disabled people and those with health conditions. One of the main demands of Epilepsy Action’s employment campaign was an increase in employment support for people with epilepsy.
The scheme is currently being tested in a third of Job Centres in the country, and should be available nationally in 2024.
Lastly, while the Chancellor announced another freeze on fuel duty, and an extra £200 million to tackle potholes, no plans were announced to improve public transport, on which so many people with epilepsy rely.
Overall, while Epilepsy Action cautiously welcomes some of the measures announced, it will continue to campaign for further improvement in support for people with epilepsy.