Prescription charges in England will be frozen for the first time in over a decade to help ease the cost of living crisis, the Government has announced.
People have been forced to tighten their budgets due to rising food and energy prices, with inflation soaring to its highest level in 30 years.
Prescriptions are already free in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales, but most people in England have to pay unless you are exempt.
Charges usually rise in line with inflation, but prices will remain the same this year, saving people in England who pay prescriptions a total of £17 million, according to the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC).
What are the prescription charges?
A single charge prescription will remain at £9.95, while a 3-month prescription prepayment certificate (PPCs) will cost £30.25.
12-month PPCs will still cost £108.10 and can be paid in instalments. People can still get all their medication for just over £2 a week.
The freeze will also apply to NHS wigs and fabric supports, with prices remaining at the current levels.
Health Secretary Sajid Javid said: “The rise in the cost of living has been unavoidable as we face global challenges and the repercussions of Putin’s illegal war in Ukraine. Whilst we can’t completely prevent these rises, where we can help – we absolutely will.
“This is why I am freezing prescription charges to help ease some of these pressures and put money back in people’s pockets.”
The Government has pledged spending packages of over £22 billion in 2022-23 to help ease the cost of living crisis, with measures including a minimum wage increase and tax cuts for the lowest-paid workers on Universal Credit.
In the Spring Statement, Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced that the income threshold at which people have to start paying National Insurance will be increased by £3,000 to £12,570 from July.
However, he previously announced that national insurance would be increased by 1.25 percentage points in April 2022 to help fund the care sector.
Who is exempt from prescription charges?
Certain people are already exempt from paying prescription costs. This includes:
- Pensioners 60 or over
- Children under 16
- Teenagers aged 16 to 18 and in full-time education
- Pregnant women or those who have had a baby in the previous 12 months and have a valid maternity exemption certificate (MatEx)
- People who have a specified medical condition and a valid medical exemption certificate (MedEx)
- Those with a continuing physical disability that prevents them from going out without help from another person and who have a valid medical exemption certificate (MedEx)
- People with a valid war pension exemption certificate and the prescription is for their accepted disability
- NHS inpatients
The NHS Low Income Scheme also offers free prescriptions to pensioners, students, people on benefits and those living in care homes.