In the March budget it was revealed that chancellor George Osborne had reserved an extra £1.25bn for investment to improve mental health services for children and young people for the next five years. This amount was to be split equally amounting to £250m annually, and had been included within the Department of Health’s (DoH) annual budget until 2020-21. However, it has been announced that only £143m will have been spent by April 2016, this is £107m short of the promised target for 2015-2016 despite NHS England’s hope that commissioners would spend more financially on mental health services this year.
Mental Health Network chief executive, Stephen Dalton expressed how he felt there was a lack of transparency over how mental health funding was being allocated.
He said: “I don’t know what the DH has done with the £107m. In-year this is a broken promise for reasons that are difficult to understand as all providers agree there is chronic underfunding in children’s mental health services. One can only conclude that the money has been siphoned off to spend in some other area that isn’t mental health.”
The DoH responded by stating how the mental health budget for this year was part of a targeted programme, making sure investment was linked to ‘real change.’ A spokeswoman on behalf of the DoH continued to say how spending would be allocated to perinatal mental health services, and on the Improving Access to Psychological Therapies programme for children; the rest would be spent on inpatient services, improving data and workforce development.
Despite the cuts to mental health funding this year the government has emphasised how plans to commit an extra £1.25bn by 2020