Chancellor George Osborne’s budget has been criticised by disability charities and service users for offering little to people with disabilities.
In the budget, the Chancellor confirmed there will be a cap on social care costs in England, which had been announced last weekend. The cap on costs people will pay will be £72,000, starting from 2016.
Osborne also confirmed that most Government departments will see their budgets cut by 1% in each of the next 2 years, although schools and the NHS will be protected.
Richard Hawkes, chief executive of disability charity Scope, said “There’s no place for disabled people in the Chancellor’s aspiration nation.
“Disabled people want to live independently. But the support they need to get up, get dressed and get out and about is being squeezed due to chronic under-funding of social care.
“Neither the £72,000 cap on costs nor £118,000 means test will resolve the care crisis for disabled people, who make up a third of the people who use social care.
“Disabled people want to be able to pay for essentials without turning to credit. But in 2013 they are struggling to make ends meet. Life costs more if you're disabled and this is being compounded as living costs spiral and incomes flat-line. What’s the Government’s response? A squeeze on financial support which means many disabled people face not one, but two, three or four different cuts to vital support.
“In this context it’s a frightening prospect that welfare could be capped in the June spending review – having already been slashed by billions. Some people need benefits, get over it. It doesn’t make them a scrounger, it doesn’t make them workshy and it doesn’t make them a lay-about.
“Surely an aspiration nation should be a place where disabled people can pay the bills and live independently?”
Mark Lever, chief executive of The National Autistic Society, agreed that the budget did little to reassure people with disabilities and their families.
“We need to know how social care will be paid for in the future and that there will be adequate support available for those who need it.
“These are challenging economic times but kicking the issue into the long grass will solve nothing and delays could result in people with autism developing more complex needs – consequently costing the state more in the long-term.
“There needs to be a timely and workable solution to this issue within this Parliament – the lives and welfare of thousands of people up and down the country depend on it.”
Service user Chris Williams, who has Asperger’s syndrome, was also critical of the budget. “Once again there has been no mention of disabled people. Equal priority should have been given to people with disabilities and the services they need to receive. The budget will disappoint the most vulnerable in society.”
Williams was also critical of changes to housing benefit and the upcoming replacement of disability living allowance with personal independence payment.