The pre-Budget 2018 chatter implied that money would be specifically allocated to children’s mental health provision. The news feeds are a disappointment, as nothing specific has been announced by Philip Hammond.
What the Budget 2018 said
We’ve just taken a look at the Budget 2018 documents and have found the following that are relevant to children.
The Budget provides significant new investment into the public services that people care about the most. This includes the following:
- funding for a new multi-year budget for the NHS until 2023-24, following the Prime Minister’s June 2018 statement that the NHS budget would increase by £20.5 billion a year in real terms by 2023-24
- additional funding for social care, to help local councils provide greater support for older people with care needs, and to help more children to live safely at home
- further support for children and young people, including school equipment and maintenance, and help for young people to build strong communities free from violence
There is not much detail, but £20.5 billion is a significant investment. Teachers are incandescent this morning that the money is going to school ‘extras’, when many of the basics are underfunded and lacking.
Mental health funding
Further into the document we get to mental health funding. You would presume this is to include services such as CAMHS, which is currently drastically underfunded with an ever increasing number of children needing their services.
The government is committed to achieving parity of esteem between mental health and physical health services, ensuring that high quality mental health support is available for those that need it, in appropriate, safe settings.
Can somebody please explain why this is an aspiration rather than something that is already a given and in place? It beggars belief!
Funding for mental health services will grow as a share of the overall NHS budget over the next 5 years. These services will take pressure off Accident and Emergency (A&E) departments and other public services such as the police, probation and social services.
Again, we find it concerning that this is only now being acknowledged, when in reality it should already be a universally accepted truth that well funded and structured mental health services are the guardians of our society and can prevent children and adults self harming (or worse), families failing, and crime being seen as the only career path available to vulnerable people.
The NHS will invest up to £250 million a year by 2023-24 into new crisis services, including: 24/7 support via NHS 111; children and young people’s crisis teams in every part of the country; comprehensive mental health support in every major A&E by 2023-24; more mental health specialist ambulances; and more community services such as crisis cafes.
Having experienced NHS 111 on several emergency occasions, we’re sure we’re not the only folks who feel that its not the right channel for this funding. And again, why don’t we already have crisis teams and A&E mental health teams already in place. We also wonder how that will work if you live in an area, as we do, where we don’t even have a fully functioning A&E department. How will desperate people access this service? And why do we have to wait a full 5 years for this to be fully rolled out? How much suffering will this delay cause?
The NHS will also prioritise services for children and young people, with schools-based mental health support teams and specialist crisis teams for young people across the country.
This is good news. We think. When it’s reduced to a single sentence in a 106 page document it is difficult to be sure! It begs so very many questions. Will every school get a mental health professional? Or will it be a shared resource? Because 1 person between 10 schools is a totally different resource than 1 per school full time. When is this going to be in place by? Will they report to the head or be managed from a central resource? If it’s centrally, how will families access this resource? And, where are we going to magic up all these professionals from? There’s already a shortage of skilled mental health workers, and the government’s own figures show that there are over 32,000 schools in the UK. The numbers don’t stack up!
On the subject of schools…the proposals include £410 million for them. However no a penny of that appears to be specifically earmarked for SEN provision.
There’s £35 million allocated to making great children’s TV programmes, but nothing to help some of our most vulnerable children achieve the best possible education and therefore the best life.
Hey, at least they’ll have good stuff to watch when they’re excluded!
Parental bereavement leave
Last but by no means least is the introduction of parental bereavement leave and pay
The government will introduce a new statutory entitlement to two weeks’ of leave for employees who suffer the death of a child under 18, or a stillbirth after 24 weeks of pregnancy. Employed parents will also be able to claim pay for this period, subject to meeting eligibility criteria. This entitlement will come into force in April 2020.
Hmmmmm, ‘eligibility criteria’ ‘April 2020’. So disappointing.
So those are the ‘highlights’ of the Budget as they pertain to our children. Whilst we have yet to see how these, lets be honest, really rather vague, pledges pan out in reality, and there are a lot unanswered questions, and discussion about whether this budget is Brexit dependent, our first reaction is that despite the government’s own report, our children are still very much forgotten.
Budget 2018 – what do you think?
Do you agree? Or do you see this Budget in a different light?