16 March 2023
Chancellor Jeremy Hunt announced the 2023 Spring Budget on 15 March.
It has landed at a time when young people and the youth professionals that provide vital lifelines to them are struggling with cost-of-living pressures and mental health challenges. The Chancellor announced the budget was based on the Prime Minister’s top priorities, including growth. He confirmed that inflation is expected to be 2.9% by the end of 2023, and that the country’s GDP is expected to grow. He also pledged “more money for public services and more money for future generations” calling these “deeply held on values that we put into practice today.”
‘Levelling Up’ remained a central concept to the budget. London Youth highlighted concerns with levelling down London this time last year in response to the Levelling Up White Paper.
A key headline of the 2023 Spring Budget is that it includes £100m for charities, with Jeremy Hunt recognising that they often reach those that the Government cannot.
- Around 3/4 of funding will be used to deliver grants in 2023-24 to the frontline charities and community organisations facing the biggest increases in demand for their services and increased delivery costs.
- The above is likely to include those who support the most vulnerable with accommodation, warmth and food (source: DCMS).
- Around £25m will be used over the next two years to fund measures (e.g. boilers, heat pumps, insulation) targeted at increasing the energy efficiency and sustainability of VCSEs (voluntary, community, and social enterprises).
A £63m fund was also announced to keep public leisure centres and pools afloat in the face of soaring energy bills.
A further £10m was announced to be spent over the next two years to help charities that address suicide.
Other announcements our members may find useful to know include:
Cost of living
- The Chancellor confirmed that the energy price guarantee will remain at £2,500 for the next three months (until July). Hunt said this would save the average family £160. This move was believed to have been influenced by campaigning from Martin Lewis.
- People with pre-payment meters will only pay as much as people with direct debit.
- However, the one-off support of £400 that has been available over the winter in monthly instalments, is still due to end on 1 April.
- The 5p cut to fuel duty was extended for another year.
- Read this article showing what the new budget means for people on different incomes.
- Digitising mental health using apps and online support was featured in the budget, but mental health charity Mind warned that “these aren’t a silver bullet to the nation’s mental health problems. Mind’s research suggests people want the choice to have face-to-face support if they need it, which means we still need more investment in services.” Read their full comment here.
- As above, a further £10m was announced to be spent over the next two years to help charities that address suicide and that support people experiencing suicidal thoughts or approaching a mental health crisis.
- The Youth Offer, which provides mandatory tailored support and advice for 16- to 24-year-olds, will be extended to April 2028. The Government said: “this will maintain support to look for work for young people who are not in education, employment or training and therefore at greater risk of labour market scarring. We will also expand eligibility for the Youth Offer to support young people on UC who are not currently searching for work, including young parents and carers.” This guide by Youth Employment UK is aimed at young people and provides some clear information.
- With more than two million people economically inactive in the country at the moment, the ‘back to work’ agenda was central to the budget. The childcare piece (below) is part of tackling this and closing the gap between the large number of vacancies and unemployed people. Also, more support for disabled people and a scheme for over 50s.
- Addressing the fact that some people are unable to work due to mental health conditions, the Government sought to address this in the budget. Mind charity commented that this is a “one-dimensional, overly-simplistic approach to a complex, systemic issue” here. Trust for London also commented in this thread – “Many people are worried that the Chancellor’s announcements yesterday will punish people who are unable to work.”
- Hunt announced “a revolution in childcare support” to increase the UK’s workforce. Read more here.
- Income tax relief is increasing for different types of carers and the threshold of income at which qualifying carers begin paying tax on care income will increase.
- A further £8.1 million each year for two years will be spent on the Staying Close programme, expanding it to around half of local authorities by March 2025. The Government says the aim of this is to help young people leaving residential care get into employment.
- The NHS confederation called this “little above and beyond what was announced in Autumn.”
Special Educational Needs
- Over the next two years an additional £3m will be invested by the Department for Education to expand the Supported Internships programme to young people entitled to SEN support who do not have an education, health and care plan.
We commented on the Autumn statement back in November, noting there were no specific funding initiatives for youth policy within DCMS, and calling for urgent ongoing support for grassroots community organisations both in relation to the energy cap as well as wider cost-of-living support.
Since then, we have continued to listen to our members and to young Londoners about the pressures they are facing (most recently at the APPG for London where we supported a group of young people to comment from lived experience to cross-party MPs on housing, mental health and transport in the context of cost-of-living).
At London Youth, we will never stop saying that young people need youth work. And we will never stop saying that youth work needs a properly funded, national, long-term youth strategy, shaped by young people, and inclusive of all underserved young Londoners, who face extremely high poverty rates. Despite the welcomed pledge to charities, we want to see a more meaningful commitment from this Government to invest in the youth sector.
Please contact us if you are a member of London Youth and you have any feedback about the 2023 Spring Budget and how it will affect you and the young people you work with. You can also email firstname.lastname@example.org to join our Policy Advisory Group.