Charities disappointed by Spring Statement

Charities have expressed their disappointment over the announcements made in today’s (23 March) Spring Statement.

Speaking to MPs today, Chancellor Rishi Sunak said to help with the cost of living crisis he is cutting 5p from fuel duty and from July, will raise the threshold for paying National Insurance by £3,000. Local authorities will also get a further £500m for the household support fund from April to help the most vulnerable households.

There were no charity sector specific announcements.

Sector body NCVO however put out a thread with a statement on twitter outlining what it means for charities.

It concluded saying: "To sum up: infliation and rising energy prices will be a triple whammy for charities, as more people seek support, services become more expensive to deliver, and the value of income is eroded."

Money and Mental Health, a charity founded by 'money saving expert’ Martin Lewis said the measures taken today will not help people with the cost of living crisis.

“This is deeply disappointing and will do nothing to reassure people who are out of work during the cost of living crisis," the charity said on Twitter.

“The extra £500m for the household support fund is welcome but not nearly enough to support the most vulnerable households.

“Increasing benefits would have been a more direct and effective way of supporting people through the tough times ahead.

“This is especially true given how difficult it can be for people with mental health problems to access the support they’re entitled to from councils.”

The Charity Tax Group noted that the proposed fall in income tax rate from 2024 would have an impact on the value of Gift Aid to the sector. In its documents, the government has said that there would be a three-year transition period for Gift Aid to maintain income tax basic rate at 20% until April 2027.

The group said this transition period was ‘welcome’ and that it was ‘encouraging’ they pre-empted calls for transitional relief.

Neil Helsop, chief executive of the Charities Aid Foundation said that more action is needed to avoid the worst effects of the crisis.

“We’re all acutely aware of the cost-of-living crisis and the strain it places on people everywhere. Charities are the first line of defence when families fall on hard times, and they stand ready to work with partners to meet the likely increase in demand on their services.

“It is positive that the Chancellor has announced some measures to help tackle this in today’s Spring Statement, but realistically more action is needed if we are to avoid the worst effects of this crisis.

“Given the role charities play in the UK’s response to poverty, deprivation and social crises, we encourage the Government to ensure the sector is part of the conversations about ways to help, particularly as part of the levelling up agenda.”

The Children’s Society agreed that the announcements were disappointing, calling the increase to the household support fund a 'short term fix', with a call to commit to long-term, sustainable funding for crisis support.

Centrepoint’s head of policy, research and campaigns, Alicia Walker said: “Today’s statement was an opportunity for the Chancellor to start reversing the devastating impact of last year’s cut to Universal Credit. Sadly, by failing to increase Universal Credit, the Chancellor has missed his chance. In fact, below-inflation increases to benefits mean that thousands of vulnerable young people will face another real terms cut to their incomes next month as living costs continue to rise.

"While the Household Support Fund will be doubled next month, it remains to be seen whether the first package actually reached vulnerable young people, a group who after today’s statement will continue to face the lowest entitlements to financial support from the government.

“Universal Credit is the best way to keep young people out of debt, in stable accommodation and able to afford basic necessities – it can’t do that if it fails to keep pace with the cost of living.”

Mencap called the annoucements "bitterly dissapointing". Edel Harris, chief executive said: "Despite promises to fix social care, despite years of underfunding, and an increasing crisis in the workforce, it is bitterly dissapointing not to see any additional funding not going into the sector."

More sector reactions will follow as we receive them.

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