Spring budget fails to prioritise mental health

06 March 2024

Today the government announced its spring budget, setting out its spending priorities for the coming months.

Mark Winstanley, Chief Executive of Rethink Mental Illness, said:

“We need a mental health system that supports everyone, especially those that need it the most. A system that is fit for the 21st century and the new challenges we face. This is achievable with sustained funding of the NHS and social care, but both are under huge pressure. Today’s budget did not do enough to relieve that pressure. In fact, the mental health of the nation was not referenced once by the Chancellor.

“Plans to improve productivity and modernise systems within the NHS are welcome. But we are remain concerned that, based on these measures alone, the health service won’t have enough resources to safely support people who are desperately unwell due to severe mental illness, resulting in even more preventable harm and deaths. It is especially concerning given the decision by some police forces to step back from responding to most mental health emergency calls, with an estimated £260m needed for the NHS to plug the gap, leaving people experiencing one of the most distressing moments of their lives potentially stranded and without support. 

“This is against a backdrop of the failure to reform the Mental Health Act to ensure people in mental health crisis are treated with respect and have a say in their treatment. The public want to see political parties prioritise mental health: in this regard, today’s budget sadly falls short of the mark.”