Posted on Wednesday 15 March 2023
“The Government urgently needs to step in and provide better support” Young Lives vs Cancer Chief Executive Rachel Kirby-Rider reacts to Spring Budget announcement
Today (Wednesday 15 March) the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Jeremy Hunt, set out the UK Government’s annual 2023 Budget.
In response to the Budget, Rachel Kirby-Rider, Chief Executive at Young Lives vs Cancer, said:
“Today the Government had the chance to address the major financial challenges faced by families across the UK, but this Budget is a huge missed opportunity – it offers next to no relief for those who need it most, especially young people with cancer and their families.
“When you have no choice but to keep your home warm all year round and keep running your washing machine to have clean clothes and sheets to avoid infection risk, your bills are already through the roof. This is on top of travelling miles to and from hospital with soaring petrol costs. Families are still having to make really tough choices to cover the costs of cancer.
“Last year Young Lives vs Cancer launched a Crisis Fund to help support children and young people with cancer and their families, who when devastated by all that cancer throws at them, should not have to be worrying about money on top. We have given out more than £300,000 through this Fund so far, but the scale of the problem is so huge that our grants cannot deliver the full support our families need. The Government urgently needs to step in and provide better support for the most vulnerable.”
How will the 2023 Budget impact on children and young people with cancer and their families?
Cost of Living support & energy bills
We already heard in the Autumn Fiscal Statement that cost of living and energy bills support would be scaled back from April 2023, and today’s announcement re-confirmed that the £400 energy bill relief received by all households will end this month.
Some support payments will still be available from April, with £900 for households receiving certain means-tested benefits, but only £150 for people receiving certain disability benefits. It is clear that a one-off £150 payment will not touch the sides when our families are spending an additional £730 per month on average due to the spiralling costs of cancer and household bills.
Today’s Budget also confirmed that the Energy Price Guarantee (set by the Government to limit the price of the unit cost of household energy) will be maintained at its current level for a further three months until June, instead of rising as originally planned.
Whilst it is a small relief that this cap is not rising immediately, energy prices are still at a historic high, and children and young people with cancer and their families are still seeing their bills rising whilst support from the Government continues to not go far enough. Even though we’re moving out of winter, the costs families face don’t stop in the summer. They need to continue to keep well through their treatment, by keeping warm at home, having the right food, and travelling to hospital – all costs which are continuing to increase.
The announcement today also saw changes to childcare support, increasing support amounts for parents on universal credit by almost 50%, with payments also being made up front. Also, a planned phased introduction over the next two years of 30 hours of free childcare for all children between 9 months and 5 years old. These measures intend to better help families with their childcare needs, though we will be looking to the Government to ensure that any changes to childcare are accompanied by delivering a childcare system and workforce which is sufficiently resourced and funded.
What are Young Lives vs Cancer doing to help?
At Young Lives vs Cancer we aim to support all children and young people with cancer and their families with everything cancer throws at them. This includes financial support and grants, including our Crisis Fund. Our Social Workers are also on hand to provide expert support for the day-to-day challenges of facing cancer, including finances, and can help with things like accessing welfare benefits you may be entitled to.
We continually work to promote the needs and experiences of children and young people with cancer and their families, asking for change where things need to be better. In the lead-up to the Budget, we…
- Have written to the Chancellor of the Exchequer to ask for better support
- Joined movements like Martin Lewis’ calls for energy bills support and Together Through This Crisis, handing in our open letter to the Treasury last week
- Are members of the Carer Poverty Coalition, to campaign for change to better support unpaid carers through the cost of living crisis
- Are supporters of Safe Sick Pay, to campaign for everyone to get fair sick pay if they become ill
And we’ll keep going – for all the children, young people and their families who are affected by cancer and the cost of living crisis, we’ll do everything we can to deliver the support 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