Rethink Mental Illness responds to the 2023 budget

16 March 2023

On Wednesday March 15th, Chancellor Jeremy Hunt unveiled the contents of his first Budget in the House of Commons. Here is our response to what was announced, with analysis of what it means for people living with mental illness.

Mark Winstanley, Chief Executive, Rethink Mental Illness: 

“Yesterday’s budget rightly recognised how poor mental health is stopping increasing numbers of people from working, and focused on funding and initiatives to remove barriers to employment to help people stay in work if they are well enough to do so. The expansion of Individual Placement Support (IPS) employment services over the next five years is a welcome development. However, while many people living with mental illness will welcome additional support to help them into work, a regime of stricter sanctions from the Department for Work and Pensions has the potential to strike fear into many people’s hearts and minds. It is crucial that this overhaul in the DWP’s strategy does not come at a cost to people’s wellbeing, setting them back instead of helping them move forwards.  

“Investment in suicide prevention and local charities can be effectively used to help improve support in the community, and it’s encouraging to see recognition of the valuable role the voluntary sector can play by working in partnership. But too many people severely affected by mental illness will continue to struggle to access the crucial support they need to help them stay well and out of hospital without fundamental reform of social care. Additionally, until the long-awaited workforce plan for the NHS is published, it is unclear how an over-stretched NHS will be staffed to meet demand or provide the workforce required for implementation of long-awaited Mental Health Act reform. Overall, there was no indication in this budget of how services will be shored up to help meet the rising tide of need and record demand for support.  

“While some welcome developments were announced in the budget, along with the introduction of new forms of support and extended initiatives to help people through the cost of living crisis, overall the Chancellor’s statement failed to provide reassurance that the government truly grasps the scale of the mental health emergency that we face in the aftermath of the pandemic, amid the cost-of-living crisis. The government must do more to join the dots across its departments and prioritise the nation’s mental health so that people can access the meaningful support they need.”