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The affect of the budget on healthcare, education and local authorities is well documented. But below are some of the ways it could affect children and young people that you might not have heard about.
Among the changes made are donations to children’s hospitals, a levy on soft drinks targeted at improving the health of young people, a tax-free childcare policy, and changes to PE and breakfast clubs in schools.
Soft drinks levy
In the Budget, the government announced a levy on soft drinks to pay for school sport, noting that “child obesity is a national problem”.
It cited evidence that 80 per cent of children who are obese between the ages of ten and 14 will go on to become obese adults, adding that this results in widespread costs to society.
As sugar consumption is a major factor in childhood obesity, and sugar-sweetened soft drinks are now the single biggest source of sugar in the diets of children and teenagers, the government decided to introduce a new soft drinks levy, targeted at the producers and importers of soft drinks that contain added sugar.
This will likely push up the cost of sugary drinks, which, while intended to dissuade consumers from indulging in such beverages, could negatively impact on the finances of some families.
In England, the money generated from the levy will be used to double the primary school PE and sport premium from £160 million per year to £320 million per year from September 2017. This is intended to assist schools in supporting healthier and more active lifestyles. Using the funding, it is hoped that primary schools will make further improvements to the quality and breadth of PE and sport they offer, including introducing new activities and after school clubs.
In addition, up to £285 million will be given to 25 per cent of secondary schools. This will give them increased opportunity to extend their school day and offer a wider range of activities for pupils, with sport being high on the agenda.
£10 million will go towards expanding breakfast clubs in order to ensure more children have a healthy start to their day.
The government is also planning to roll out Tax-Free Childcare in a bid to give working parents a hand with the costs associated with childcare. The youngest children will enter the scheme first, and all eligible parents are hoped to have been brought in by the end of 2017.
In order to ease the transition between childcare schemes, the current Employer-Supported Childcare initiative will remain open to new entrants until April 2018.
Funding to children’s hospitals
The government is to allocate £700,000 to Sheffield Children’s Hospital Charity with money generated from banking fines. This cash will go towards a fully digitally intraoperative 3T MRI scanner.
A further £700,000 will go to Birmingham Children’s Hospital Charity, which will be allocated to the ‘Eye Believe’ appeal which is to transform the hospital’s Eye Department, as well as to the ‘Star Appeal’, which is creating the UK’s first centre for children with rare diseases and undiagnosed medical conditions.
Meanwhile, £2 million in banking fines will go to University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust, which will facilitate the building of a Paediatric Emergency and Trauma Department. This will mean that the units treating sick children will all be in one location.
Investing in child prosthetics
The government is to invest a £1.5 million sum in child prosthetics. According to the Budget, this will give hundreds of children with limb deficiency access to sports prosthetics. It will also create a fund designed to incentivise the development of new breakthrough innovative procedures within the NHS.
Money going to social care charities affecting children
The government also announced it would give £500,000 to Pause, which will see its reach expanded nationwide. The charity works to enable women to make choices about their future, and slash the number of children being taken into care.
It will also award £497,000 to the Action for Children Swansea SAIL project. This is hoped to help the scheme provide young mothers and mothers-to-be that are going through care proceedings with the emotional support and advocacy they need.
Furthermore, £118,000 is to go to Parenting NI, which will help the organisation to empower mothers to develop skills to manage their children’s behaviour using non-violent methods.
Sources: HM Treasury Budget 2016
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