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Joe’s Soapbox: November 2023

author icon author icon 29/11/2023 author icon Joe's Soapbox

Some of you will be aware of the Autumn Statement which was announced on the 22nd November 2023.

The Statement says what the UK Government is going to spend its money on.

It is set by the Chancellor of the Exchequer.

The Chanclellor is Jeremy Hunt.

According to the Independent Newspaper there are winners and losers to this budget.

Winners and losers from Jeremy Hunt’s autumn Budget (

The winners because of tax cuts are:

  • Those in paid work.
  • Pensioners.
  • Self-employed.
  • Pubs and small businesses.

The losers would be:

  • Those on state benefits.
  • Councils and users of council services.
  • Wealthy homeowners.

BBC News reports that Wales will get an extra 1.2 billion pounds over two years.

Autumn Statement: What does it mean for Wales? – BBC News

The Welsh Government say that this will not cover inflation.

And this means that in real terms they will have less to spend on public services.

Jeremy Hunt says ‘This is a plan for stability, a plan for growth and a plan for public services.’

Labours Finance Minister Rebecca Evans said that she was disappointed and that it ‘doesn’t come close to meeting the gap that we’ve identified in public service provision’

First Minister Mark Drakeford has said that the Welsh government budget will be worth 1.5 billion less than it was this time last year.

The (Office for Budget Responsibility) OBR says that there will be a 19 billion pound cut in public spending.

Channel 4 news says that this is exactly the amount money that will cover the cost of the tax cuts.

Jeremy Hunt has said that part of the reason for the tax cuts is give people more reason to get into work.

All Wales People First do not have any political bias.

But as a person with lived experience I can see from a policy point of view, there are potential dangers that we need to be aware of.

For instance, the majority of our members fall into two of the ‘loser’ categories.

This is cuts to benefits and cuts to public services.

Many of our members rely on state benefits.

Not because they want to, but because:

  • Many members are not work ready.
  • Many employers will not give people with learning disabilities a chance in the workplace.
  • There is not enough in work support.

One of our members with a learning disability, shared concerns with me about claims that the UK Government could look into the bank accounts of those that claim benefits.

DWP plan to snoop on benefit claimants’ bank accounts will hurt disabled people (

This is to make sure that those who claim benefits are really entitled to them.

And that they are genuine claimants.

This concerns me for two reasons.

Obviously, being able to look into a person’s bank account is a major breech of privacy.

And the ‘benefit clamp’ down message can demonise people on benefits in the eyes of the public.

This includes genuine claimants such as our members.

When PIP Assessments were introduced in 2012 there was an increase in hate crime towards disabled people.

There is also a myth that ‘benefit scrounging’ is a big reason that the UK is struggling for money.

And that the working man is propping this up.

This means that benefit clampdowns are popular amongst many working voters.

It is only right that anyone not entitled to state benefits should not receive them.

But people with learning disabilities should not be included in this clamp down.

We need to make sure that our members are protected.

If the state wants people with learning disabilities to work and they want to make work pay, then they need to provide people with learning disabilities the support and training they need to succeed in the workplace.

The state has failed people with learning disabilities in employment.

Forcing many people to have no choice but to depend on state benefits.

It is vital that people with learning disabilities are not dragged into the ‘benefit scrounger’ narrative.

Cuts to public spending are going to really impact on our members because they are more likely than most to need public services.

This is because they are trapped within a system that forces them to be dependent on the state.

And to live in poverty.

All Wales People First will keep a firm eye out on this situation.

And will work with Human Rights partners to see what it can do to protect our members.

This work is firmly on our radar.

I have some ideas on how to take this forward.

We will keep you updated on our progress.

Victory for Self-Advocacy.

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