Savefor later Page saved! You can go back to this later in your Diabetes and Me Close

Spring Statement 2023: Government must support people with diabetes during the cost of living crisis 

Image of a pound coin

The government must use this year’s Spring Statement to help people living with diabetes who are affected by the cost of living crisis. We're calling on the government to take decisive action to ease pressure on people's budgets and deliver on promises to improve diabetes care and prevention.  

The Spring Statement on the 15th of March is a vital opportunity to support people living with diabetes amidst rising costs. It is also an opportunity to invest in type 2 diabetes prevention and provide the NHS with the workforce and investment it needs to deliver timely care and support to people with and at high risk of diabetes.

Failing to take action now will create a perfect storm of problems for the nation’s health which will be seen now and in the years to come. 

We've heard from people with and at high risk of diabetes who are worrying about rising bills and are finding it harder to manage their health as a result. For example: 

  • Cutting back on essentials like food and energy 
  • Struggling to afford taking part in fitness and sports activities 
  • Going without vital care such as hypo treatments, self-funded diabetes technology or travelling to appointments because of cost. 

This has serious implications for people's health, and the NHS must be prepared to withstand this as people face avoidable complications and only start to access healthcare when they're more unwell.

The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) recently announced the Major Conditions Strategy which aims to reduce the number of years people are living with ill health, as well as alleviate pressure on the NHS by focusing on treating people as individuals.

Diabetes is included in the strategy under cardiovascular diseases, but to be successful, it needs to be part of a bigger commitment to tackle the drivers of ill health being exposed by the cost of living crisis. 

That’s why we’re calling for Chancellor Jeremy Hunt to use the Spring Statement to: 

1. Invest in public health and the diabetes workforce 

We were pleased to see the Chancellor use November’s Autumn Statement to commit to a fully funded long-term workforce strategy. This will be especially important as the cost of living crisis takes its toll on people’s health and ability to manage living with diabetes. But without the right number of staff needed to meet demand, the health system cannot plan or prepare for this.  

Health Secretary Steve Barclay has stated that the Major Conditions Strategy and the NHS Long Term Workforce Plan will work together to set out the care that people should expect.

The upcoming NHS Workforce plan must therefore be published in full, and include estimates of how many staff will be needed to keep pace with future demand for NHS services, alongside a commitment to provide necessary funding over this and future Spending Review cycles.  

We are also concerned that there has been a reduction in the funding of public health grants. These are used by local authorities to fund vital preventative support like weight management services which can help people stay healthy.

The 2022/2023 public health grant paid to local authorities from the DHSC budget amounted to £3.4bn. This means that as the value of the grant hasn’t kept pace with rising inflation local authorities are facing the equivalent of a 21% real-terms cut per person since 2015/16 (so while the amount of funding has risen, local authorities can do less with it).

We support the Obesity Health Alliance’s call for an investment of £1 billion in the public health grant to reverse this cut and make sure local authorities can invest in improving health.

2. Guarantee that people have money in their pockets to afford essentials 

90% of households on Universal Credit are going without essentials, and we’re seeing that people living with diabetes who receive means-tested benefits are disproportionately likely to be struggling and going without – and this is affecting their ability to manage living with diabetes and access care.  

While we’re pleased that means-tested benefits will rise in line with inflation in April, this needs to be part of a much larger commitment to making the benefit system fit for purpose.  

People receiving benefits deserve a consistent guarantee that their income won’t face a real-terms cut, and that it is designed to keep pace with inflation.

We support the Guarantee Our Essentials campaign, which has calculated that as it stands, from April 2023 the basic rate of Universal Credit will only be £85 a week for a single adult - £35 lower than the amount needed to cover essential living costs. 

The government must investigate measures to make sure the base rate of Universal Credit is enough to cover life’s essentials so that no one goes without. This should form part of wider measures to support households with the cost of living.  

3. Lower barriers to living healthy lives 

Being able to eat healthy food is vital to manage and prevent diabetes, but is directly tied to how much money you have in your pocket.

Just under a fifth of UK households have experienced food insecurity, and the risk of food insecurity increases in households with children. People with and at high risk of diabetes have told us that they’re worried about soaring food prices, and have had to do things like buy cheaper but less healthy food or turn to food banks as a result.  

The government must make it as easy as possible for people struggling to eat healthy foods by expanding on the successful Soft Drinks Industry Levy (SDIL) and design new policies to push companies to produce healthier food and drinks options.

Revenue raised from these measures should be allocated to funding policies to make healthy food more accessible, such as free school meals, breakfast clubs and healthy start vouchers. 

As part of this, the government must also commit to widening access to Free School Meals to make sure children have access to a free hot and nutritious meal, no matter their background, and relieve pressure on struggling families. 

A chance to provide support

We will be releasing research showing the impact that the cost of living is having on people with and at risk of diabetes, and what this means for the nation’s long-term health.

In the meantime, we’re calling on the government to use the Spring Statement as a chance to deliver on its promises for the nation’s health, and give people with diabetes the support they need to stay healthy. 

Back to Top
Brand Icons/Telephonecheck - FontAwesomeicons/tickicons/uk