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Budget 2023: energy support welcome but funding gap remains

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Nurse giving tube feed to young boy at a children's hospice

We welcome the decision to extend energy bill and childcare support to families in today’s budget. However, we are concerned the Government has not addressed the £300 million annual gap in funding for children’s palliative care in England.

HM Treasury has announced that the Energy Price Guarantee, which caps the unit cost of energy for domestic households, will be kept in place at the same level until the end of June 2023. Together for Short Lives was part of the campaign led by Money Saving Expert’s Martin Lewis to retain the cap, which will mean that, on average, households will pay £2,500 per year on their energy bills.

The Chancellor also announced that he is providing over £100million for charities and community organisations in England. The government says this will be targeted towards those organisations most at risk, due to increased demand from vulnerable groups and higher delivery costs. It will also provide investment in “energy efficiency measures to reduce future operating costs”.

But the Chancellor announced no additional support for families of seriously ill children who incur higher costs because of the electrical equipment their child needs to stay alive. There was also no mention of a social tariff as a long-term solution to reducing energy bills for households with high energy usage due to disability.

There was positive news on childcare costs, with 30 hours of free weekly childcare for working parents extended to cover children aged from nine months to three years. The government also stated a new ambition for all parents of primary-aged children in England to access care in school from 8am-6pm. However, the Chancellor made no commitments to make sure that parents of children with complex health needs could access the childcare they need in order to work.

Andy Fletcher, Chief Executive of Together for Short Lives, said:

“I welcome the Chancellor’s decision to fund extended household energy support and a new package to help charities. This should provide some help to families of seriously ill children and the voluntary sector palliative care services they rely on, including children’s hospices, who remain worried by soaring energy costs.”

“However, the government has not gone far enough. The Chancellor has failed to support families with the long-term additional costs of looking after children who need electrical equipment to stay alive. Childcare reforms are welcome, but seem to do little to help parents who want to work, but cannot because of a lack of childcare that meets the complex needs of their seriously ill child.”

“And the Chancellor has done nothing new to address the £300million gap in NHS funding for children’s palliative care in England – or to secure the future of the NHS England Children’s Hospice Grant as a ringfenced, centrally-distributed fund beyond 2023/24, as it is now.”

You can read the full Budget 2023 documents on the HM Treasury website here.

You can read what Together for Short Lives asked the Chancellor to include in Budget 2023 here.

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