On Wednesday, November 23, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Philip Hammond, delivered the Autumn Statement to MPs, updating them on the Treasury’s plans for the economy.

One of the Chancellor’s most important economic statements of the year, this year’s Autumn Statement forecasts that government finances will be £122 billion worse off in the period until 2021 than the forecast in the March budget, with consequences for people with sight loss.

Read on for Thomas Pocklington Trust’s official response to the Statement:

“The Chancellor’s focus on the UK’s strong economy without the inclusion of measures to protect some of society’s most vulnerable is disappointing.

The government’s failure to acknowledge the growing crisis in social care is deeply worrying. The failure to further invest in health and social care by this government will impact negatively on blind and partially sighted people in the long run.

Although the Chancellor has said there will be no further cuts to social security (welfare), higher inflation and the continued freeze to in-work benefits will mean a real terms cut to people in receipt of these benefits.

Thomas Pocklington Trust is greatly saddened by the government’s failure to postpone or reverse the £30 cut to Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) for new claimants placed in the Work Related Activity Group (WRAG).

It is fundamental that financial support is available for blind and partially sighted people who have limited capability for work and are struggling or unable to work, recognising the additional barriers and costs they face.

The reduction of the Universal Credit taper rate from 65p to 63p in every £1 is welcome, but we should not lose sight that even this reduction will have a negative impact on many blind and partially sighted people in receipt of the Universal Credit Work Allowance.

The abolition of letting agents’ fees for tenants appears to be a good move, however, it may result in an increase in the fees that landlords are required to pay and in turn could cause rents to rise.

The increase to the Personal Tax Allowance to £11,500 from April 2017, coupled with the Blind Person’s Allowance of £2,290 would enable registered blind tax payers to benefit from a tax-free allowance of nearly £14,000.

Overall, Thomas Pocklington Trust is disappointed with this year’s Autumn Statement for the sight loss sector and the disability sector as a whole.”

You can watch or listen to the Autumn Statement here.

For an overview of key points from the Autumn Statement, click here.

Picture credit: gov.uk website