Budget 2017: A missed opportunity

Rainbow Trust Children’s Charity is disappointed that today’s Budget from Chancellor Philip Hammond has missed the opportunity to bring comfort to families of children with life threatening or terminal illnesses, with no mention of plugging the funding gap for child social care or of tackling funeral poverty.

More positively, the Chancellor announced additional funding for the NHS over the course of the rest of the Parliament, and measures worth £1.5 billion to respond to the serious concerns raised about the impact of the introduction of Universal Credit.

This announcement on Universal Credit will be welcomed by families on low incomes where a child has a life threatening or terminal condition, who are being moved onto Universal Credit. These include an end to the initial waiting period of seven days and making the first month’s payment available to claimants within five days.

However, Rainbow Trust is calling for urgent investment in preventative social care services which could support those families who struggle to manage with both the emotional and practical challenges of having a child with a life threatening or terminal condition. Successive budget cuts mean three quarters of local authorities are overspending on their children’s services, and the Local Government Association has warned of a £2 billion gap in funding by 2020.

Rainbow Trust CEO Zillah Bingley said:

‘Today’s budget offers little comfort for the families of children with life threatening or terminal conditions whose lives revolve around the care of their child. In particular Rainbow Trust is deeply disappointed at the silence on social care and especially social care for children. Nor has the government taken up the gauntlet of ending funeral poverty despite the clear case to increase the size of state contributions for those on low incomes who are at risk of going into debt because of the cost of their child’s funeral. While we obviously welcome today’s announcement of additional funding for the NHS, it is high time that social care was given the same prominence in the Budget. For Rainbow Trust, which receives just three per cent of its income from statutory sources, the continued squeeze on local authority finances means it is getting harder and harder for us to obtain funding at a local level, with the result that that many families who need our services are not yet able to access them.’