NHS mental health services are to get an extra £2bn a year by 2023, while £1bn will injected into Universal Credit to help people move onto the new benefit.
Paul Farmer, Chief Executive of Mind, the mental health charity, said:
“This budget was an important one for mental health. The Chancellor has committed funding for NHS mental health services, while the announcement around Universal Credit has implications for hundreds of thousands of people with mental health problems.
“NHS mental health services have been underfunded for decades and we know that too often, people don't get the help and support they need, when they need it. This commitment ahead of the NHS long-term plan indicates that mental health is rightly high on the Government's agenda, and has the potential to improve access to care, once detailed plans are clear.
“The £2bn committed should be seen as more of a ‘down-payment’ on what needs to be much faster growth in future. One way to accelerate improvement is to make sure that mental health is a priority across the whole of the NHS, with significant investment in areas such as prevention, primary care and mental health support for people with long-term physical health conditions. If the £2bn is for mental health services specifically, we should expect to see investment in other parts of the NHS on top of this.
“We look forward to seeing how mental health is reflected across the NHS long-term plan when it is published shortly.
“Mental health isn’t just about the NHS. People with mental health problems tell us that support from other parts of Government are also vital. We know many people with mental health problems have experienced difficulties in getting Universal Credit – often facing long waits for any income at all, and when they do receive it, finding they’re worse off than under the previous system. It’s good that this budget responds to the need for greater investment in Universal Credit, but the problems go much further than just funding.
“Any day now the Government will bring forward legislation that will give them the power to move three million people from existing benefits to Universal Credit. If the Government continues along their current path, hundreds of thousands of people with mental health problems on existing benefits will be forced to make a new claim for Universal Credit, and in so doing many risk losing their income - and even their homes. We had hoped to see changes to these regulations announced in the budget. We’re urging the Government to change their plans before the legislation is finalised, to create a safety net so that no-one sees their money stopped before or during the move to Universal Credit.
“This budget clearly illustrates that mental health sits across departments and highlights more than ever the need for a cross-governmental strategy.”
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