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Spring Budget 2017 fails children’s palliative care services in the UK

Author: Leila Hawkins
10 March 2017

Children’s palliative care charity Together for Short Lives have expressed disappointment at the Chancellor’s failure to provide additional funding to services for children with life-shortening conditions.

Yesterday Chancellor Phillip Hammond announced that the Spring Budget will grant an additional £2 billion to local authorities in England, however none of this will be allocated towards funding children’s palliative care in the voluntary sector.

The contribution by councils to the provision of children’s palliative care in the voluntary sector has fallen by 61 per cent since 2014/15.

In Scotland on the other hand, funding for children’s hospices has increased on a par with that of adult hospices. In England adult hospices receive 33% of their funding from statutory sources, compared to children’s receiving an average of just 22%.

The baby benefit bar remains in place, which means that children under the age of three aren’t entitled to the mobility component of the Disability Living Allowance (DLA). This would make it possible for families to buy or have access to specially adapted vehicles, enabling them to travel in safety along with necessary life support equipment. This benefit would transform the lives of over 2,000 children and their families.

 “Unless these funding gaps are addressed, then we, as a country, are making a judgement that we place greater value on the life of an adult than that of a child. This is not fair”, Together for Short Lives said in a statement.

Barbara Gelb OBE, Chief Executive of the charity, said: “Budget 2017 confirms our worst fears: sadly it seems only the loudest voices are being heard and the weakest, the most vulnerable children in our society, and their families, are being pushed to the periphery. Unless the government actively steps in to fix this broken system, which is supposed to give these families the support they need, then they will never be part of the ambition for a stronger, fairer, better Britain which works for everyone.”

Earlier this year the charity published a document calling on the Chancellor to introduce reforms to help the 49,000 children in the UK in need of palliative care. Read the document here

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