With any Budget, some benefit more than others and the recent Autumn Budget was no exception.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak focused more on spending than tax cuts in this budget and with news of investment in the judicial system and healthcare, our clients should see some benefit.
Legal groups have welcomed the justice investment including the Law Society of England and Wales.
It said the UK government has taken a step in the right direction by reinvesting in the justice system.
Society president I. Stephanie Boyce said: “We welcome news the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) will have a £3.2bn increase in its budget to £11.5 bn in 2024-25, equivalent to a real-terms growth rate of 3.3% per year on average over the spending review period.
“In our submission to HM Treasury, we stressed the need for the MoJ’s budget to rise at least in line with inflation for the duration of the spending round and we are relieved the government listened to us.
“It is good news the government has committed to better access to justice by investing more than £1bn to increase capacity and efficiency across the courts system, tackle the growing court backlogs and help the system recover from the Covid-19 pandemic.
“A healthy legal system is vital for individuals, businesses and achieving levelling up. Legal aid for people on lower incomes and efficient courts are pillars of a fair society. Few things are more empowering than the ability to uphold and protect our rights.”
The Treasury has allocated £477 million to fund the criminal justice backlog, improve waiting times for victims of crime and reduce the Crown Court backlog from 60,000 cases to 53,000 cases by 2024-25.
It has also committed £324 million to address the backlogs in the civil, family and tribunal jurisdictions, while more than £200 million is aimed at completing the MoJ’s court reform programme by 2024-2025.
I. Stephanie Boyce added: “We have long warned the civil legal aid sector is in a precarious state and urgent action needs to be taken – to give confidence and security to civil providers in the medium-term and to help them survive while a more lasting solution is found.
“It is with great relief that we learn that the UK government has listened to us and has pledged to invest in the sustainability of the civil legal aid market.
“The thresholds for means-tested legal aid will increase, which will expand access to justice for those who cannot afford it. We have long campaigned for this change, which means that millions more should be able to access justice in our courts. We are also optimistic that improvements are on the horizon for criminal legal aid.
“The money announced today will not solve all the problems afflicting our justice system overnight, but it is a step in the right direction. We encourage the government to build on this by fully funding the recommendations of the Independent Review of Criminal Legal Aid, restoring legal aid for early legal advice and ending the legal aid deserts that now stretch across most of England and Wales.”
Access to an adequate health care system is vital for injured people.
Rehabilitation for physical and psychological injuries is often needed. This allows a possible return to a normal life.
The Chancellor said the new Health and Social Care Levy, along with an increase to the rates of dividend tax, will raise around £13 billion per year. This will go towards spending on health and social care across the UK.
It will provide £2.3 billion over the next three years. This will transform diagnostic services in community diagnostic centres across England.
Helping millions of patients access earlier diagnostic tests closer to home.
Over £2 billion will go towards digital technology in hospitals and other care organisations.
It will mean they are as connected and efficient as possible, freeing up NHS staff time and ensuring the best care for patients wherever they are.
Then £1.5 billion will provide surgical hubs, increased bed capacity, and equipment.
This will help elective services recover, including surgeries and other medical procedures.
Matt Custance, head of public sector healthcare at Grant Thornton UK LLP, said: “It needs to be acknowledged that Government has continued to fund the NHS with real term increases in spending at a time when other departments and local government have suffered. Funding has been announced to help NHS organisations claw back elective waiting lists, which have ballooned during the pandemic, and additional funding for ongoing vaccinations and Covid treatment. However, demand for healthcare has been increasing, even before the pandemic, while the workforce has become increasingly scarce so whether this will be enough – only time will tell.”
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