In the run-up to the General Election, we explored how a new government could mean an uncertain future for work started under previous parliaments. But back then few people predicted the result would be a hung parliament, and even more uncertainty. So what does this mean for dementia research – and how can you help?
Ahead of the election, we asked you to back our campaign to keep dementia research a priority. Lots of you got involved and the voices of people across the country made a real difference in delivering a message to candidates, telling them just how important this issue is to you.
— John Middleton (@john_Middleton_) May 26, 2017
We were encouraged to see that the Conservative Party manifesto included a commitment to invest in dementia research – although the document did not specify what level of funding could be expected, or detail how spending commitments would be maintained beyond the 2020 Challenge on Dementia.
What’s happening in parliament now?
In the end, the election result means no party has enough seats in parliament to govern without the support of other parties. The Conservatives are the largest party, but will need to rely on votes from the Democratic Unionist Party in order to get their programme of new legislation through parliament.
That programme, which includes 27 new Bills for the next two years, was set out in the Queen’s speech earlier this week. A number of proposals originally included in the Conservative manifesto have been dropped from the speech – an inevitability as the party seeks wider support for its policies – and MPs are expected to vote on the package of Bills next week.
What does this mean for dementia research?
Government work is not just about legislation, and a new law is not needed to enshrine support for dementia research. But a third of the Bills laid out in the Queen’s speech relate to Brexit, signalling just how much the negotiations for our exit from the EU will dominate parliamentary business over the next two years. Against this backdrop, there are fears that other important issues could fall by the wayside – and we can’t let dementia research slip from the agenda.
We blogged ahead of the election about the activities that we believe need to happen in the next parliament. While the Department of Health has committed to delivering the Challenge on Dementia 2020, we need a longer-term strategy for defeating the condition. At the G8 dementia summit in 2013, the UK signed up to an ambition to find a disease-modifying treatment for the condition by 2025. That means a treatment that doesn’t just help with symptoms, but slows or stops the diseases that cause dementia. If our new government is still committed to this vision, we need to know that funding will be in place to support the pioneering research needed to deliver it, and that policymakers are working to ensure the UK has a thriving life sciences industry.
We need your help
Democracy is about more than placing a vote in the ballot box every few years. One important way we can influence change is by making our views known to the people who represent us in parliament. We know dementia research is hugely important to you, and Alzheimer’s Research UK will be working hard to make sure this message is heard in government. But we need you to raise your voices too, to help us make sure every MP knows just how important dementia research is to the people they serve.
As the Conservative Party seeks to get its Queen’s speech through parliament, we need a firm commitment from its MPs that dementia research will remain a priority. And we need to know that MPs from every other party will help hold the Conservatives to account on its manifesto pledge. You can help us now in a number of ways:
- Whoever your MP is, we’re asking you to contact them to make sure this issue stays on the political agenda. If you’re not sure who your MP is or how to get in touch, simply search for your postcode on the UK Parliament’s website. For more guidance, contact our Public Affairs team on firstname.lastname@example.org.
- You can also help us by sharing your support on Twitter or Facebook
- Sign up to become a Campaigner, and join hundreds of others who are committed to helping us stand up for dementia research.