Posted on Wednesday 22 November 2023
Young Lives vs Cancer responds to Autumn Statement
Today (Wednesday 22 November) the UK Government Autumn Statement was an opportunity to make positive change for children and young people with cancer and their families who currently pay an extra £700 per month, on average, following a cancer diagnosis.
Young Lives vs Cancer has been campaigning for change to provide more financial support, including the introduction of a Young Cancer Patient Travel Fund, improved support for carers, relief from the pressure of soaring energy bills, commitments to funding the essential NHS workforce and more.
Today’s Statement had provision for none of these things.
In response to the Autumn Statement, Rachel Kirby-Rider, Chief Executive at Young Lives vs Cancer said:
“This Autumn Statement is another huge missed opportunity where the UK Government could have taken vital action needed for children and young people with cancer and their families, but didn’t.
“On top of the additional costs that come with their cancer diagnosis and the health challenges they’re facing, these vulnerable young people and families are disproportionately affected by the continuing cost of living crisis.
“However, today’s Statement provides no support for those who need it most to make sure they can keep their heating on and keep up with their bills, especially this winter when prices are still astronomically high and are expected to rise again this year and next.
“Whilst it’s some relief that benefits* payments will be rising in line with inflation from April, we still need to see much more put in place to fully support children and young people with cancer and their families, including those who become unpaid carers.
“It’s disappointing that today’s Statement doesn’t reflect or address the real challenges many across the UK are facing.”
The Autumn Statement is an opportunity for the UK Government to deliver more support and resources for those across the UK who need it most, and put in place measures to start to transform public services like our NHS.
In addition to uprating benefits* in line with the slightly higher September inflation rate, the Statement included announcements that National Living Wage will increase to £11.44 per hour and that the National Insurance main rate will go down to 10%, which is a positive step. However, interest rates are still high and even though inflation has come down, prices are still rising. Young cancer patients and their families experience costs of £700 extra every month on average – costs they will continue to struggle with and need help with now.
Earlier this year, the UK Government and NHS in England launched the NHS Long-Term Workforce Plan, to outline how they will take action to ensure the healthcare workforce will meet the needs of the NHS and patients. However, with no clarification on long-term funding for the Plan having been announced, we still need to know how UK Government and the NHS will ensure we have a specialist children and young people’s cancer workforce that is adequately resourced to meet their unique needs.
We know we still need to see change happen. Young Lives vs Cancer will continue to speak up for all the children, young people and their families who are affected by cancer and do everything we can to campaign for better, and deliver the support they need.
*this applies to benefits provided by the UK Government. Decisions on some benefits in Scotland and Northern Ireland are devolved to Scottish Government and the Northern Ireland Legislative Assembly and are not included in this announcement.
The establishment of the Taskforce comes after almost two years of campaigning by Young Lives vs Cancer and Children’s Cancer and Leukaemia Group (CCLG), who together have been calling on UK government to implement a dedicated Children and Young People’s Cancer Plan.
Dominique Davis will take up her new role at the end of January