‘The era of austerity is finally coming to an end’. Really?

In his first Autumn Budget, Chancellor Philip Hammond claimed his party’s management of the public finances was working and would allow future investment in public services – hinting at a reversal of the spending cuts to government departments that have been the norm since 2010, and a new approach from 2019. But with Brexit in the way, does it add up? 

Significantly, the Budget didn’t provide many answers on the urgent question of local authority finance – any big reform will have to wait until next year at least, and potentially after the Brexit issue is more settled. In the meantime, many services are under huge pressure, with demand spilling over onto charity services and beneficiaries.

Hammond addressed the social care crisis hitting local government and the health service with a range of funding streams amounting to nearly £1bn into 2019, but many analysts will consider this far below what is required even in the short term. The Chancellor also said the government would ‘shortly’ publish a Green Paper on social care – but virtually the same promise was made this time last year. Without sorting out both, claims about the end of austerity still ring hollow for many. 

On the other hand, the Chancellor did make significant (and anticipated) announcements about Universal Credit, which many charities (including food banks like the Trussell Trust) have criticised. Calling it a ‘major structural reform to our economy that will help drive growth in the years ahead’, he announced an additional £1bn over five years to support ‘additional protections’ as people move to Universal Credit, as well as policy changes that would cost another £1.7bn, intended to benefit 2.4m working families with children and people with disabilities. He said further detailed measures from the Department for Work and Pensions would be forthcoming – whether this is enough to fix the problems will surely depend on those.

Hammond also re-announced the Government’s already trumpeted real terms £20.5bn increase for NHS spending over the next five years. He said the NHS will need to produce a 10-year plan, to be ‘published shortly’, and announced that there would be a new mental health crisis service, with comprehensive support available in all A&Es, enhanced support for children and young people, and a crisis hotline. 

For charities specifically, there were some familiar giveaways for charities involving people in uniform, such as £10m for Air Ambulances, and £10m to benefit Armed Forces Charities in the centenary year of the armistice at the end of the First World War. There were also some technical, tax-related measures around charity trading and Gift Aid. However, many other policy areas important to many charities, such as a planned UK Shared Prosperity Fund (to replace EU funding streams after Brexit), and the future of the Charity Commission’s budget, got no mention.

Commenting on the Chancellor’s statement, DSC’s Director of Policy and Research Jay Kennedy said: ‘Despite new measures on Universal Credit and another social care funding stop gap, the claim of the end of austerity rings hollow. The Chancellor made big statements about mental health provision that many charities will want to unpack, because they’ve heard similar things many times before.’ 

‘The clock is ticking down to our departure from the EU and there was no new news on a consultation about the future UK Shared Prosperity Fund, or the potential development of the Dormant Assets scheme to support community resilience. We may have to wait until the Spending Review to get more certainty about the Charity Commission’s budget’.

‘Critically, local authority finance remains in limbo, which means continued chaos on the ground for local charities in their relationship with local government, as demand for many services continues to increase. Much still depends on the outcome of the Brexit negotiations and the planned Spending Review next year. Time will tell whether this Budget is worth the paper it’s written on.’ 

For more information please contact Daniel Ferrell-Schweppenstedde, Directory of Social Change by email (dferrell@dsc.org.uk) or phone (020 7697 4293, 07932 072 597). 

Notes to editors:

• Founded in 1974, the Directory of Social Change (DSC) is a national charity which supports an independent voluntary sector through campaigning, training and publications. DSC is the largest supplier of information and training to the voluntary sector, and its work helps tens of thousands of organisations every year achieve their aims. Learn more at www.dsc.org.uk

What to Do If You Think Someone You Know Has Dementia

Have you ever noticed that your parent’s memory is declining? Or perhaps your partners statements aren’t quite as coherent as they used to be?

Well, you’re in a tough position if you think that you’re loved one has dementia. The very thought of them forgetting who you are or even themselves is indeed a very disappointing thing. To make things worse, you are compelled to tell them about their situation before they lose their bearings.


It’s a sensitive subject to deal with, which is why it needs careful thought before diving into the issue.

●       Know the signs and symptoms

Diagnosing the disease early will help patients prepare themselves for the future. This can also help slow down the progression of the disease as they’re able to tap onto interventions early on. Some of the common symptoms of dementia are memory loss, difficulty in performing daily tasks, vagueness in conversations, and speaking in different languages. It will help a lot if you seek professional help as soon as you notice any of these symptoms.

●       Talk it out with family members

You don’t have to be alone in this because doing so will only put unnecessary and excessive burden on your shoulders. Talk about the issue with your other family members and friends and ask them if they also have seen any changes. Do this in a confidential manner, though.

It’s not about spreading rumor or gossip. Instead, it’s all about collaborating with others to know the best thing to do with your loved one who you think has dementia.

●       Put yourself in their shoes

Be sensitive as possible when it comes to approaching your loved one about their possible health issue. This isn’t an easy conversation to have which is why you need to put yourself in their shoes.

Imagine if it was you who was going to be approached to concerning your eventual loss of memory. What would you feel? How would you react?

Choose a time when neither of you is stressed or tired, and do it in a silent place with zero distractions.

●       Seek professional help

Seeking professional help is probably the best thing you can do if you suspect someone of having dementia. However, this is easier said than done. You need to encourage your loved one that they need medical attention as soon as possible because of the changes you see with their behavior.

Doctors know what to do with dementia patients because it’s their job to take care of medical conditions. Don’t push yourself too hard to implementing self-medications. Go to the doctor as early as possible and follow what they have to say. It might be letting your loved one undergo therapy or perhaps take some prescription drugs.

Take note — doctors know best.

It’s normal to feel sad and anxious especially if you suspect your loved one of having dementia. However, confronting the issue is the best way to alleviate its negative effects. Reassure them that what you’re doing is for their best interest. It’s all about supporting them no matter what.

Jane Byrne is a Project Coordinator at FirstCare Nursing Homes. Jane regularly blogs about both the personal and practical challenges of caring and is always actively working on producing informative content.