During these incredibly difficult times the work of charities is more important than ever.
I was reassured to learn that Ministers in BEIS and officials have met with the Association of Medical Research Charities (AMRC) and their members regularly in recent months, covering topics like the potential challenges as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
Moreover, I know that the Department of Health and Social Care is also working with the AMRC, as well as individual charities, to understand the impact of the pandemic on the sector, and how the Government and charities can work together to ensure that patients continue benefiting from charity funded research. Medical research charities are an integral part of the United Kingdom’s world-leading life sciences sector, and I support the work ongoing between the Government and AMRC.
The Chancellor has made available £750 million worth of funding for charities to enable them to continue providing essential services to those most in need. As part of this funding package, £22 million has been awarded to help lifesaving health charities.
I have spoken with colleagues at HM Treasury about your suggestions for the Spending Review taking place this year. There will be a one-year review setting budgets for next year, which will allow for a focus on tackling Covid-19 and delivering the Plan for Jobs. I am regrettably not in a position to pre-empt the conclusions of the review. I am, however, assured by my aforementioned colleagues that they are aware of the policy suggestions you raised.
Heart and circulatory disease, also known as cardiovascular disease (CVD), causes a quarter of all deaths in the UK and is the largest cause of premature mortality in deprived areas. This is the single biggest area where the NHS can save lives over the next 10 years. I welcome goals set out in the NHS Long Term Plan which seek to target this, including preventing up to 150,000 heart attacks, strokes, and dementia cases over the next 10 years, working with partners to improve community first response and build defibrillator networks to improve survival from out of hospital cardiac arrest, and working to ensure up to 85 per cent of those eligible are accessing cardiac rehabilitation care by 2028, among the best in Europe. I believe the work the British Heart Foundation is doing, including raising awareness and investing in research, is key to the combined effort to save lives from CVD.
I know what a worrying time this is for many charities just at the point when many are needed most. I encourage people to keep giving to charities where they can.