Our comments on Government’s Spending Review

George Osborne, Chancellor of the Exchequer

We have serious concerns about the impact of spending cuts for local councils in England

Retention of the Disability Living Allowance is good news – but local council cuts will bite

We welcome the intention of the government to protect people with disabilities from spending cuts announced in today’s Comprehensive Spending Review.

In particular we welcome the stated intention to retain Disability Living Allowance which is lifeline for babies, children and adults with disabilities and their families to deal with the crippling financial burden of living with a disability, and not a benefit for those out of work.

However, we have serious concerns about the impact of spending cuts for local councils in England – which will have their funding reduced by 28% over the next four years.

We implore local authorities to protect vital support for people with disabilities and their families, support which many rely on to maintain a decent quality of life and also crucially, independence.

Wheelchair users fear social housing cuts due to a lack of wheelchair accessible private homes

We also have major concerns about the proposals to cut 60% from the social housing budget given the devastating impact this will have on many people with muscle disease. It is estimated that there are 8,500 people with muscle disease living in social housing – twice as many than in private accommodation.

People affected by muscular dystrophy tell us of the grave difficulties that they face in finding accessible – and affordable – private housing. Many rely on low-cost social housing that has been adapted for their needs. Those prevented from finding suitable accommodation may be forced into homes that are not financially sustainable.

We strongly urge local authorities to ensure that housing stock is available to meet the needs of households affected by disability.

Research cuts have been avoided – but will treatments reach the field?

The news that no planned cuts will be made to NHS research budgets is extremely reassuring for both the Muscular Dystrophy Campaign and the tens of thousands of parents whose greatest hope is for a treatment to prolong the life of their child. Ground-breaking advances are on the horizon for treating some forms of muscle disease which could offer a very different future for those affected. We hope to see the Medical Research Council maintaining the levels of funding that have been allocated to date and that have made such breakthroughs possible.

However, patients need to benefit from the high quality of research into muscle disease that is taking place. They will only do so if the treatments that are being developed are made available to them. Further, we are not yet seeing adequate provision of care for people with muscle disease in the UK. The Muscular Dystrophy Campaign will continue to fight to rectify this.

Increased funding could help the NHS make further savings in muscle care

We welcome the real terms increase in funding for the NHS, and urge the Secretary of State, Andrew Lansley, to ensure that sufficient funds are directed to the needs of the 70,000 people affected by muscular disease.

In the NHS White Paper, the government committed to ending the postcode lottery of access to specialist care for people with muscular dystrophy by ensuring that every region of the country commissions dedicated muscle disease services.

By investing some of the additional funding announced in the Comprehensive Spending Review into support services for people with muscle disease, the NHS could significantly reduce the estimated £81m annual cost of emergency admissions while improving care.

Capping support back into work will penalise disabled jobseekers

We will be looking into proposals for a limit of one year for people that are receiving the Employment Support Allowance.

We are concerned that people who have attempted to work despite having a neuromuscular condition, but that are now unable to do so will be worse off.

It is essential that government extends and promotes the Access to Work scheme and works with employers to improve both the accessibility of workplaces, and employer attitudes towards disability.

The Muscular Dystrophy Campaign will be raising our concerns on these issues with Government ministers.

Will you be affected by these issues? Please share your thoughts with us by contacting our campaigns team on 0207 803 2865 or campaigns@muscular-dsytrophy.org


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