Versus Arthritis charity response to Autumn Statement

Responding to Chancellor Jeremy Hunt’s 2023 Autumn Statement, Deborah Alsina MBE, CEO of the charity Versus Arthritis, said:

“We welcome the Chancellor’s announcement today of tailored employment support schemes designed to help people with conditions like arthritis get back to work. But there’s no ignoring the fact that this Autumn Statement is a budget prioritising tax cuts over NHS waiting list cuts.

“Across the UK, the trauma and orthopaedics waiting list has grown to over one million and includes people with arthritis waiting in agony for joint replacement surgery, many of whom have severe and worsening mobility issues which prevent them from working. Joint replacement operations can give people their lives back and enable them return to work, yet today’s Statement has not committed the necessary cash to bring down NHS waiting lists, forcing people with arthritis to pay the price instead.

“Whilst tailored employment support may help more people with arthritis enter and stay in work, we are concerned about the unnecessary, unfair, and potentially counter-productive sanctions being explored. For people living with fluctuating conditions like arthritis, which can cause unpredictable periods of debilitating ill health, the welfare system can be a safety net to fall back on until people feel well enough to return to work. Removing this safety net simply punishes people for having a health condition, when what people really need is support.”