Today, Friday 23 September, the Chancellor delivered a mini-budget, setting out the Government’s plans to provide support during the cost of living crisis.
Adequate support for charities was noticeably absent in today's announcement.
We are concerned about the impact this lack of support will have on the already struggling palliative care sector’s ability to continue to provide vital care and support.
Charities, like Sue Ryder, are seeing costs rise across the board as we deliver care to patients around the UK and interventions such as fixing energy prices at their current level for six months do not go far enough to help the sector cope with the cost of living crisis.
The lack of a sustainable funding solution for the sector, continued workforce shortages and an ageing population have placed hospice services under considerable strain. This has been further compounded by the pandemic, which added pressure to services and limited their ability to fundraise.
Sue Ryder Hospices and Palliative Care Hubs currently only receive around one-third of the money required to run our end-of-life care services from the Government. This funding has not risen in line with increasing costs, meaning that there is increased pressure on income generated through donations, fundraising activities and charity shops to cover the shortfall and safeguard services. With everyone facing soaring costs, we are very concerned about the impact the cost of living crisis is having on our ability to raise the vital funds we need to plug this gap. Today's announcement did little to address the pressing financial concerns faced by the charitable palliative and end-of-life care sector.
This financial uncertainty is made more worrying by the fact that demand for palliative care is set to increase by 55% in the next ten years (1). Failure to provide sustainable financial support to hospice services will not only severely affect hospices in the short term, but will also likely lead to a devastating lack of adequate palliative care in the future.
Increased financial support for charities to cope with the cost of living crisis needs to be introduced now.
Commenting on the fiscal announcement, Heidi Travis, Chief Executive at Sue Ryder, said:
"Sue Ryder is concerned about the impact the cost of living crisis is having on the hospice sector and its ability to deliver vital palliative and end of life care to patients across the UK.
"The hospice sector continues to face a number of challenges; a lack of sustainable funding, a national workforce shortage, the ongoing impact of the coronavirus pandemic, and now, the rising cost of living.
"Sue Ryder Hospices and Palliative Care Hubs only receive around one third of the money required to run our end of life care services from the Government and rely on fundraisers to make up the shortfall. The rising cost of living will mean that many of our costs are significantly increasing and many of our generous donors may not be able to support us as they have done in the past.
"Our services relieve the ever-growing pressures on the NHS, yet a lack of funding threatens their future. We urge the Government to consider other financial options of support to the charity sector, specifically measures to support hospices to provide palliative and end of life care to patients."
(1) Sue Ryder research ‘Modelling demand and costs for palliative care services in England’