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Autumn Budget 2017: what to expect

November 22, 2017

Philip Hammond, Chancellor of the Exchequer, will deliver the UK Budget today and outline planned changes to spending, some of which are likely to affect people with M.E.

One area where a change is expected is the roll-out of Universal Credit, which replaces six other benefits with a single monthly payment if you're out of work or on a low income. The benefit has come under increasing scrutiny recently due to its accelerated roll-out, and has faced cross-party criticism for the in-built six-week waiting period before individuals and families receive their first payment: there have been reports of claimants going into arrears on their rent and turning to food banks while waiting for the benefit to be paid.

We understand that the roll-out of Universal Credit may be a cause of anxiety for many people and would like to remind everyone that Action for M.E.’s confidential Welfare Advice and Support Service is here to help with difficulties you may have in understanding Universal Credit, filling in forms, or any aspect of claiming or maintaining benefits.

There have also been increasing calls for an end to the freeze on welfare benefits, which have stayed at the same level for the last two years despite rises in the cost of living. The Equality and Human Rights Commission’s latest report shows that the overall impact of benefit and tax credit changes since 2010 has hit disabled people the hardest.

Pressure on health and social care budgets is ongoing. While some increased funding was announced in the spring, health charities warn that an additional £4billion is required to stop patient care from deteriorating in 2018/2019. Any increases in expenditure on health or social care would be welcome to ensure that people with long-term health conditions such as M.E., who are more commonly in contact with services, are not adversely affected.

The Budget announcement is expected to begin at 12.30pm, and will be covered across mainstream news and media, while Disability Rights UK and Benefits and Work will offer specialist analysis relating to disability and welfare benefit issues.