In today’s Spending Review, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak announced:
• £3billion to support the NHS’s recovery from Covid-19, including "around £500 million to address waiting times for mental health services, to give more people the mental health support they need, and invest in the NHS workforce.
• Confirmation of £165million capital funding ringfenced for 2021-22 to replace outdated mental health dormitories with single en suite rooms.
• £4.3million will be used for green social prescribing, funding projects involving nature and the outdoors that could improve people's mental health and reduce health inequalities.
“Earlier this week we welcomed the UK Government’s announcement of additional funding for mental health services over the Winter, recognising the immediate impact coronavirus is having on people's mental health, and the need to act quickly. But politicians know like us that the pandemic will continue to affect the nation's mental health, including children and young people in the long term.
“While there is no doubt that the additional funding for NHS mental health services set out in the Spending Review is essential, and very much welcomed, we do note that this is some way short of estimates that due to increased demand mental health services will require more than £1bn a year for the next three years, to deal with the long term fall out of the pandemic.
“Mental health is not just the responsibility of the NHS, and so we are incredibly disappointed by the lack of additional financial support for disabled people, including those with mental health problems, so they can afford to live. The Spending Review should show how it will help pull people out of poverty by retaining the £20 a week increase to Universal Credit and extending it to the thousands of disabled people receiving older benefits. No one should have to choose between being able to eat or pay for heating, which is why this has also been a missed opportunity to invest in much needed local welfare assistance programmes - to allow local councils to support those most in need.
“We do welcome commitments made to support people with mental health problems, especially things like the ending of mental health dormitories, reducing waiting times for mental health services, and an increase in green social prescribing. The proof the money allocated has had its intended effect will be in the difference it makes to the day-to-day experiences of those of us experiencing a mental health problem, in hospital and in the community. Crucially, we need to see a cross-government plan for mental health. The pandemic has clearly demonstrated that factors such as debt, unemployment, housing, and job security affect our mental health. So departments must work together to make sure everyone gets the mental health support they need to rebuild their lives.”Mental health services