Posted on Thursday 15 December 2022
Young Lives vs Cancer responds to the 2023/24 Scottish Budget
Today (Thursday 15 December) the Deputy First Minister has released the Scottish Government’s annual budget for 2023/24. The budget included the announcement of an increase in the higher and top rates of Scottish income tax to resource public spending including for the NHS and Scottish benefits, estimated to raise £129m for the fiscal year 2023/24. The announcement also confirmed that Scottish Government health funding will increase from £18bn in 2021/22 to over £19bn, which also follows from the Westminster Autumn Statement last month, and that measures to support with family finances will continue.
The Scottish Budget’s focus on addressing child poverty, including the decision to uprate Scottish benefits and maintain the increased rate of Scottish Child Payment, is welcome. With an extremely financially challenging year looming, it is more important than ever that the Scottish Government reviews what financial support is available for young people and families facing cancer, to ensure that it is fit for purpose and available to all who need it, wherever they live in Scotland. We ask the Scottish Government to acknowledge the financial impact that a cancer diagnosis has on children, young people and their families, and for this to be reflected in the Scottish Government’s approach to tackling child poverty.
Unlike previous years, the Scottish Government has not yet made any specific announcement of additional support for mental health services, which is crucial at a time when mental health services and those who access them continue to face significant and prolonged uncertainty and increasing additional pressures. With a new Scottish Mental Health Strategy in development, we stress the need for meaningful long-term resource to be allocated to improving pathways between physical and mental health services, and ensuring that children and young people have timely access to age-appropriate and holistic care at all stages of cancer treatment, including post-treatment.
In response to the budget, Helen Gravestock, Director of Policy, Influencing and Voice at Young Lives vs Cancer, commented:
“Like the rest of the UK and elsewhere, Scotland is experiencing a historic cost of living crisis. The Scottish Government must do everything within its power to ensure that children, young people and families who already face the enormous emotional and financial strain of a cancer diagnosis do not find themselves in even deeper crisis.
Some of the Scottish Government’s announcements offer welcome support in these challenging circumstances. However, whilst we appreciate the huge pressures the devolved governments are under, we ask the Scottish Government to do much more to meet its commitments to young cancer patients. In particular, we hope to see substantially increased efforts to provide children, young people and families facing cancer with appropriate, accessible mental health support and financial help. We also hope that the Young Patient Family Fund – a groundbreaking and innovative source of financial assistance – remains properly supported to ensure that young people and families in Scotland can continue to access the vital support it provides.
Young Lives vs Cancer are ready to be a constructive partner to the Scottish Government in supporting children and young people with cancer in Scotland and those around them. Last month we launched our Crisis Fund to help support families facing financial challenges, and we continue to fight alongside children and young people with cancer and their families to bring about the change they need.”
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