Our reaction to the 2024 spring Budget

Chancellor Jeremy Hunt

This Budget failed to offer support to all those families across the UK who are still in food insecurity and are unable to afford the food they need to live healthily.

In January, 15% of UK households were living in food insecurity, skipping meals and unable to afford groceries. That is equivalent to approximately eight million adults and three million children. There was very little in this Budget for them.

Whilst we welcome the extension of the Household Support Fund for six months, this is a short-term fix for a long-term problem that doesn’t give councils the reassurance and stability they would get from a long term funding settlement which allow them to provide vital services.

Changes to the child benefit threshold will benefit those earning more than £50,000 but to support lower income households the priority should have been abolishing the two child limit, which would lift an estimated 490,000 children out of poverty.

Increasing taxes on vaping could have a positive impact on health and will be welcomed by many.

It was disappointing, however, that policymakers are failing to also act on other factors contributing to the deteriorating health of the nation’s children.

If policymakers can raise tax on vapes, they should also introduce a levy for salt and sugar in food to help to tackle diet related diseases that are currently on the rise in the UK.

This is especially significant in light of OBR analysis today recognising the impact that long-term sickness is having on the workforce.  

The Spring Budget was a failed opportunity on: 

  • Free School Meals: policy makers should invest in offering Free School Meals to all children, starting with all children from households on Universal Credit. 

  • Benefit and Wage Levels: there needs to be a review of current levels of benefits and the living wage to ensure they cover the cost of a healthy and sustainable diet. 

  • Expansion of the Soft Drinks Industry Levy: Building on its success by expanding the levy onto sugar and salt in food to raise money to be invested in children’s health. 

  • Healthy Start: policy makers should expand eligibility, invest in increasing uptake and increase the value of the digital card.

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