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This a smoke and mirrors budget

By Kane Shaw, Spokesperson for the National Health Action Party

Today the Chancellor announced mental health services will be receiving an “extra” £2bn a year in funding by 2023/24. However, this announcement is not all it seems.

Firstly, because the extra funds are not new. The £2bn will be coming from the £20.5bn NHS funding increase announced by the government in June 2018. Consequently, the government are shifting money rather than committing to fresh funding.

What’s more, setting aside the fact the £20.5bn itself is fails to meet the 4% real terms, year-on-year increase, that all independent experts agree the health service requires, there is still the further fact the money is not ring-fenced. Consequently, there is no guarantee the money will definitely result in new services.

As part of the announcement the Chancellor also pledged that mental health crisis provision – such as urgent care centres – will be rolled out across the country. Yet again, this is welcome. But, by focusing only on crisis care the government won’t be reducing the demand for those services. Only a preventative approach will be able to achieve a reduction in demand, and this is an approach which the government is not pursuing.

The Chancellor also announced that local authorities will be receiving a £650m cash injection via the adult social care relative needs formula. This comes in the wake of a £240m funding boost for social care recently announced by the government on the 2nd of October.

Yet again, all is not as it seems.

The Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS) have previously pointed out that social care will have been subject to a £7bn cut from 2010 to 2017/18. What is more, ADASS has recently come forward stating that local authorities are planning to make “savings” of £700m on social care in for 2018/19.

Consequently, this hypothetically amounts in reality to an extra £190m being made available for social care as opposed to £650m. This will also be spread across local authorities by the relative needs’ formula.

This is a drop in the ocean, it will not repair the damage caused by austerity or solve the crisis in social care.

Ends

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