This, the last Spring Budget, was a low key budget, with no major surprises. However, it’s worth noting some of the measures that will have an impact on the charity sector.
On International Woman’s Day the Chancellor was very happy to announce three measures:
- New funding totalling £20m to support the campaign against violence against women and girls
- A further £5m committed to project to celebrate the centenary of women first getting the vote, and to educate young people about its significance
- Funding of £5m to support people returning to work after a career break. It is expected that the main beneficiary of this measure will be women.
Pressure has been mounting on the Chancellor to announce further help for social care and the NHS to relieve some of the well-publicised pressure that many trusts and local authorities are under. Some help was forthcoming for social care in the form of an additional £2billion grant funding over 3 years with £1 billion being made available in the 17/18 financial year. But questions will remain over how much impact this cash injection will have. Estimates for the 'funding gap' in adult social care range from £1.3 billion to £1.9 billion in 2017-18, and £1.1 billion to £2.6 billion in 2019-20. The Communities and Local Government Committee in the Pre-Budget report for their Adult Social Care inquiry stated that the Chancellor should bring forward £1.5 billion funding from the improved Better Care Fund to plug the hole in social care funding for 2017/18. In acknowledging that current social care arrangements are unsustainable, a Green Paper is promised for later in 2017.
Further help was signalled in allocating £100m to place more GPs in accident and emergency departments for next winter to assist in reducing waiting times. It will focus on triage - deciding which patients to treat first - and will include GPs working in A&E departments to help with that workload. The NHS and local councils have come together in 44 areas covering all of England to develop proposals for health and care. Each area has produced a sustainability and transformation plan (STP)for the next few years. An additional £325m is promised to allow the first NHS STPs to proceed.