Charity calls on government to commit 1% of annual cost of dementia to research

Alzheimer’s Research UK, the UK’s leading dementia research charity, is calling on government to adopt a bold new action plan to bring about a life-changing dementia treatment and improve the lives of people with the condition. The charity is urging government to commit to spending just 1% of the annual cost of dementia on research into the condition by 2025 to transform research efforts.

Alzheimer's Research UK logoThe call comes as the charity launches its new Make Breakthroughs Possible campaign and pledges to commit a further £250m to dementia research by 2025. Dementia is the leading cause of death across the UK and the number of people living with the condition is expected to grow to 1 million in just three years. Alzheimer’s Research UK believes there is no time to lose if progress is to be made for the millions of people with dementia and their loved ones across the UK.

The plan detailed in the charity’s new report, “No time to lose: An action plan for dementia,” sets out five clear actions designed to bring about a new dementia treatment and improve lives. The call for increased investment in dementia research aligns the condition with investment in other major disease areas.

Dementia currently costs the UK economy £26bn each year, much more than other major health conditions, like cancer which costs £18.7bn. In contrast, only £83.1m, or 0.3%, of the annual cost of dementia is put towards researching the condition compared to 1.4% put towards cancer research.

Increasing funding for dementia research to just 1% of the cost of the condition would accelerate breakthroughs similar to those made in conditions like cancer in recent decades, which have already transformed thousands of lives.

Hilary Evans, Chief Executive for Alzheimer’s Research UK, said: “Dementia is the health crisis of our time. With no way to stop or slow the diseases that cause it, no-one has yet survived dementia but we hope to change that.

“We’ve seen progress in recent years thanks to the Prime Minister’s Challenge on Dementia launched in 2012, but without renewed government priority given to dementia, this momentum risks being lost. Dementia has been conspicuously absent from priorities set for the health system in recent months, and we cannot afford to let the condition slip off the radar at this critical time.

“We must see government ensure dementia is a leading health priority and begin to push for the progress seen in the treatment of diseases like cancer and HIV/AIDS over recent decades. Spending just 1% of the cost of dementia on research would make breakthroughs possible, and the thousands of families across the UK who are feeling the impact of dementia deserve nothing less.”

The action plan laid out by Alzheimer’s Research UK aligns its goals with the G8 ambition to bring about a life-changing treatment for dementia by 2025, which the UK government helped to set in 2013.

The plan includes five key actions for government:

  1. Commit 1% of the annual cost of dementia to research
  2. Double the number of scientists and volunteers taking part in dementia research
  3. Work to detect the diseases that cause dementia before symptoms appear
  4. Increase awareness of how people can reduce their risk
  5. Prepare now for future treatments so they reach people quickly.

The report can be read in full at: alzheimersresearchuk.org/actionplan.