Mind responds to Conservative party conference announcements
Today, the UK Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, announced at the Conservative party conference what their campaigning commitments are ahead of a General Election in 2024.
These included cancelling the second phase of HS2, introducing new education qualifications in England, and greater restrictions on smoking. In other speeches from UK ministers pledges were also made to:
Change work capability assessments for disabled people, that will push more people into poverty
More benefits sanctions for people who don’t meet all of the welfare system’s rules
Responding to the Prime Minister’s speech and other announcements made at the conference, Mind’s Chief Executive, Dr Sarah Hughes, said:
“We welcome the Prime Minister’s commitment to reducing pressure on the NHS, but mental health appears to be missing from his plan, not just his speech. If he is serious about making long-term decisions which prevent people needing to go to hospital, then investment in mental health services needs to be at the heart of his plans. Right now, millions are on waiting lists for mental health treatment, meaning more and more people are unable to get vital help when they first need it. This means more people are reaching crisis point and being admitted to crumbling and inadequately staffed mental health hospitals.
“The Prime Minister emphasised the need to ‘put the next generation first’. We couldn’t agree more. But 1 in 6 young people now having a mental health problem, and waiting lists and lack of access to services and support, this was yet another missed opportunity to back up rhetoric with action.
“Alongside this, the UK Chancellor’s announcements on benefits paint a bleak picture for those of us with mental health problem. Between a pandemic and a cost of living crisis, it is no wonder so many people are struggling with their mental health. People do not choose to become ill. They do not want to need benefits. But this is the reality for people, compounded by decades of underfunding of mental health services.
“This is not the time to punish people with mental health problems, it’s time to invest in a fit for purpose welfare system. There is no evidence that sanctions get people into work, but there is plenty of evidence they harm people’s mental health.
“The UK government is able to provide a welfare system that stops people plunging into poverty when they become unwell and offers the right support. They must change their plans and drop their proposed changes to the Work Capability Assessment.”