Budget 2017: Charities left disappointed as focus lies on infrastructure

Charities have been left disappointed as Chancellor Philip Hammond failed to declare any positive changes to the civil sector during today's Autumn Budget.

During his speech, Hammond put emphasis on providing support for the young and future generations, but left the charity sector largely untouched.

Charities and charity bodies have since expressed their disappointment in the government for “disheartening references to business and physical infrastructure” and not to charities.

“This is backward looking, because our future prosperity comes from having strong communities which charities help to create,” CFG chief executive Caron Bradshaw said.

“Bricks and mortar is fine, but real growth comes from sustainable communities where people want to live. We need to put our role at the centre of the economy and society in front of politicians, so that public investment benefits everyone.”

British Red Cross chief executive Mike Admason said the charity is also disappointed that the budget has not specifically addressed the funding shortfall for adult social care in England.

“It is well recognised that social care is struggling to cope and that this adversely affects the NHS. The funding announced today for the NHS is welcomed, but we also need to ensure people can get the right care and support they need at home.”

Hammond announced the NHS would be granted £350 million to see it through the winter, after NHS chief executive Simon Stevens asked for the £350m per week that was promised by Brexit campaigners.

He said the government would be granting an extra £2.8bn in one-off funding for the health service to allow it to survive under immediate pressures.

The focus of today’s budget was on housing, with the Chancellor pledging his commitment to build more homes to make “the dream of home ownership a reality for all generations”, and abolished stamp duty for first-time buyers for properties under £300,000.

Commenting, YMCA Birmingham’s CEO Alan Fraser said building 300,000 new homes every year “will not, of itself, solve the housing crisis”.

“The government needs to make sure that these new homes are the right kind of homes and in the right places,” he said.

However, Hammond addressed the issue of homelessness, pledging to invest £28m in three ‘housing first’ pilots and a homelessness taskforce to eliminate homelessness by 2027.

“I want to address the issue of empty properties: it can’t be right to leave property empty when so many are desperate for a place to live so we will give Local Authorities the power to charge a 100% council tax premium on empty properties.

“And I want to say something about rough sleeping. It is unacceptable that in 21st Century Britain there are people sleeping on the streets so we’ll invest £28m in three new “Housing First” Pilots in the West Midlands, Manchester and Liverpool and establish a homelessness taskforce as part of our commitment to halving rough sleeping by 2022 and eliminating it by 2027."

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