Cost of living crisis: Freezing prescription fees for the first time in more than a decade
NHS prescription fees will be frozen for the first time in more than a decade this year as the government responds to the cost of living crisis unfolding in the UK. Health Secretary Sajid Javid said the freeze will help ‘put money back in people’s pockets’.
Fees usually rise with inflation, but freezing them will save patients £17million according to the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC). The move means the fee for a single prescription will remain at £9.35, while a three-month Prepaid Prescription Certificate (PPC) will remain at £30.25.
Twelve-month PPCs will remain at £108.10 and can be paid for in instalments. The freeze applies in England and was announced on Sunday May 15.
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Mr Javid said: “Rising cost of living is inevitable as we face global challenges and the repercussions of Putin’s illegal war in Ukraine. While we cannot completely prevent these increases, there where we can help, we absolutely will.
“That’s why I’m freezing dispensing fees to help ease some of those pressures and put money back in people’s pockets.”
The move comes after Boris Johnson asked ministers to come up with measures to ease pressure on household budgets due to soaring global prices. After the Queen’s Speech on Tuesday, the Prime Minister chaired the first meeting of the government’s cost of living committee. He urged ministers to be as ‘creative as possible’ in coming up with ideas to help struggling families that would not require new Treasury funds.
The DHSC has already said it will delay a ban on two-way supermarket deals on unhealthy, fattening foods – much to the dismay of health campaigners. Mr Johnson, meanwhile, has asked ministers to draw up plans to cut 90,000 civil service jobs over the next three years, returning the workforce to where it was before the pandemic.
But with the Bank of England expecting inflation to reach double digits this year, the government is likely to remain under pressure to go further. After the Tories lost nearly 500 seats in the municipal elections, some Tories have called for tax cuts as the only way to provide real help to those in trouble.
Meanwhile, ministers have resisted calls for a windfall tax on energy companies’ profits which have been inflated by rising oil and gas prices, warning of the impact on investment in new technology” green”. However, in a sign that their opposition may be weakening, Mr Johnson said the Government ‘should look into it’ while Chancellor Rishi Sunak said he would be ‘pragmatic’.