Mum Samantha reacts to Spring Budget 2024

4 mins read

Wednesday 6 March 2024

Tags: disability, social care, special educational needs, finances, spring budget

Today, Chancellor Jeremy Hunt set out the government’s plans for the country’s finances in the Spring Budget. But there was very little announced that will help  families with disabled children and young people.

Samantha Tolmie, mum to Lewis, had written to the Chancellor asking for extra financial support for families like hers. She appeared in a BBC News film highlighting the situation she and others faced with energy costs and cuts to benefits. Here she reacts to today’s budget.


Samantha says:

“Families like ours were pretty much ignored in today’s budget. We won’t benefit from the announced tax cuts. I worked for many years as a PA, and I adored my job. I had no choice but to give up employment to care for Lewis full-time. I’d dearly love to work, but I am now a carer around the clock. As a result, I am entirely reliant on benefits.

“There was nothing in recognition of the massive extra costs that disabled households face, which have been cruelly exacerbated by the cost of living crisis. I pay £500 a month for energy, which powers all Lewis’ life-saving electrical equipment. That is unlikely to change, except to go up, as Lewis is able to breathe only with the ventilators and other essential life support equipment. I won’t get any more of the cost of living payments to help towards those costs as they have come to an end, and there was no extension of these announced today.

“In fact, the only support measure aimed at families experiencing financial difficulties was a six-month extension to the Household Support Fund. This has of course been very welcome, but like the cost of living payments, barely scratches the surface.”

Faced with debt

Samantha continues:

“It is hugely disappointing that yet again families like mine have been let down. We are left to muddle through, faced with debt and the prospect of losing our home. We just want help and genuine, valid support to care for our children as best we can.”

As well as extra financial support for families, Contact, working with over 100 disability charities as part of the Disabled Children’s Partnership (DCP), had also called for increased funding for disabled children’s services.

The Chancellor did announce extra money to build additional special schools. But there was very little to address the wider systemic issues of a funding shortfall for SEND support in mainstream schools and social care on top of a workforce shortage and increased demand.

Money for additional special schools

Anna Bird, Chief Executive of Contact and Chair of the DCP, says:

“We hear time and again from families with disabled children who cannot access the help they need from education, health and social care. The cost of living is leaving them isolated and unable to enjoy the family life others take for granted, and preventing their children from thriving. 

“There is an immediate need for increased funding for support. 70 Conservative MPs wrote to the Chancellor at the weekend to call on him to invest £4.6bn annually in special educational needs and disability services.

“We, therefore, welcome the £105million for 15 additional special schools in the budget. We are pleased that the Chancellor has recognised the need for more specialist provision. However, it is only a tiny part of the picture. It does not explain where the specialist staff for these new schools will come from. Nor does it address the need for more specialist support in mainstream schools; nor the wider needs of disabled children and their families. There remains an annual funding gap of £573million for social care alone. 

“This funding must be followed by more sustained investment, alongside stronger accountability, so that parents do not have to fight for the support their children need.”