UKCP responds to the Spring Statement

Adam Jones

Adam Jones

UKCP Policy and Public Affairs Manager

In today’s Spring Statement, the Chancellor has missed major opportunities – both to protect those most vulnerable to the rising cost of living, and to safeguard for the future by increasing investment in mental health services.

Circumstances currently faced both by the UK and countries all over the world are challenging. The aftershocks from the pandemic, a cost-of-living crisis and the fallout from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine are taking their toll. Among other things, this carries major mental health consequences. We are concerned that no further investment in mental health, or indeed health, was announced today.

There is already a mental health crisis in the UK, evidenced by record referral numbers and prescription rates. However, we know all too well from the aftermath of the 2007-08 financial crisis that the true impact of major economic and social circumstances on mental health services is not felt immediately. It is likely to get worse. That is why it is particularly concerning that the government took no steps to protect the income of people on Universal Credit or in receipt of a state pension, creating further uncertainty and hardship for those on the lowest incomes.


Investment for now and for the future

There has never been a more important time to invest in high quality mental health support, including psychological therapies, for now and for the future. The ambitions set out in the NHS Long Term Plan are clearly no longer adequate to meet the population’s need. We continue to call on the government to urgently review its targets, both around the number of people accessing mental health services and the speed at which the mental health workforce is expanded – as well as removing needless barriers to the NHS employment of psychotherapists and counsellors.

Failure to provide further investment in the NHS also means a significant real-terms drop in pay for psychotherapists and psychotherapeutic counsellors working in these settings.


VAT exemption – a missed opportunity

Despite our consistent calls for the government to extend the VAT exemption enjoyed by other psychological professionals to psychotherapists and counsellors, it once again today missed the opportunity to make this simple, fair change. This would reduce the cost of private psychotherapy, incentivise the creation of group psychotherapy practices and redress a longstanding imbalance between psychotherapists and counsellors, and psychologists and psychiatrists.

We will continue to call on the government to take meaningful action both to prevent mental ill health and to ensure a full range of services are available to those who need support. Amid all the uncertainty created by the pandemic and the cost-of-living crisis, it has never been more important to incorporate the psychotherapeutic perspective in developing government policy. We will continue to take every opportunity to highlight this to policymakers.


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