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If only brain tumour research could be funded in the same way as leukaemia and other cancers

Budget 2017: Will the Chancellor help fund a cure for brain tumours?

budgetToday, the Chancellor Philip Hammond will rise to his feet in the House of Commons to deliver his first Budget, and the first of Theresa May’s Government. Ahead of his Budget speech, Hammond has already told the papers this weekend that he was ruling out “huge spending sprees”.

There’s a strong case for the Government to turn their attention to research into brain tumours. Last year’s Petitions Committee Report concluded that brain tumour research funding had been “neglected by successive Governments for decades”. As a result of this, the Government established a Task and Finish Working Group on brain tumours to determine how the situation can be improved.

The Working Group recognises the need to build research capacity in this area within the UK, while still developing a new generation of brain tumour researchers and attracting and retaining talent to the field. This challenge requires dedicated action across the board, from both charities and the Government.

Yet in the 12 months since the Petitions Committee Report, national spend on brain tumour research appears to have gone backwards. The National Cancer Research Institute’s (NCRI) latest figures reveal that the total national spend on cancer research allocated to research into brain tumours decreased to just 1.37% in 2015.

The burden of research investment into brain tumours has fallen heavily on the third sector. In 2015, charities funded 86% of the national research into brain tumours, while the 14% of Government spend on brain tumour research represented just 0.52% of its total spend on cancer research in 2015.

The Petitions Committee stated that the Government must not leave charities to tackle this devastating disease alone and that sole responsibility for deciding on priorities for medical research and for identifying diseases with unmet need should not be left to the voluntary sector. If the Government showed additional leadership on brain tumour research funding, other institutions and organisations would follow.

Brain tumours kill more children and adults under the age of 40 than any other cancer, with less than 20% of brain tumour patients surviving beyond five years after their diagnosis. This compares with 86% of breast cancer and 51% of leukaemia patients surviving beyond five years.

We cannot wait until the subsequent Budget for the Chancellor to help fund the fight. Now is the time for the Government to act. Brain Tumour Research call on the Chancellor to commit to facilitating an increase in the national spend on brain tumour research to £30 – £35 million a year.

We await the Chancellor’s announcements today and will continue to hold the Government to account on their investment decisions and their commitments. The Task and Finish Working Group’s report recommendations will be submitted to Ministers this summer. The Government will have a duty to act.

Together, we will find a cure.

Greg Judge

Public Affairs Officer 

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