Last week, chancellor Jeremy Hunt revealed the long-awaited fall statement. The budget aims to get the UK economy back on track after the negative impact of the September mini-budget.
The chancellor announced a range of measures the government is taking to try to balance the books, including spending cuts and tax hikes. But what does the new budget for investing in mental health research mean?
What’s in the budget?
Jeremy Hunt has confirmed that the government remains committed to spending £20 billion on research and development in 2024 and 2025. This is an increase of about a third over current spending levels, however, it does not include the extra £2 billion that was Announced in March 2020which seems to have disappeared from the agenda.
Professor Dame Ottoline Lesser, UK Chief Research and Innovation Officer, said:
“In these challenging times, we very much welcome that the Government has chosen to maintain its commitment to increasing investment in research and innovation to £20 billion by 2024-25, signaling a clear commitment to supporting world-class research and development in the UK.
“Investment in research and innovation fuels economic growth, affordable public services and the creation of quality jobs across the UK. It is an investment in our future, addressing pressing priorities in energy security, environmental sustainability and global health.
“As outlined in our five-year strategy, UKRI is building a strong portfolio of investment, talent support, venues, infrastructure and ideas to advance world-class research and innovation that creates opportunity and benefits all.”
What does this mean for mental health research?
While commitment to research is encouraging, and widely welcomed, with many calling for a share of the budget, the reality is that there is still insufficient funding.
It should be noted that this £20 billion is for all government-supported research and development projects and not just medical or health research projects, and certainly not just mental health research.
In addition, other announcements in the budget could have a very realistic impact on the nation’s mental health, causing long-term problems for the NHS and the need for more research investment in the future.
An end to child benefit payments, public spending remaining below inflation and a massive 23% increase in the fuel tax starting in March 2023 will lead to higher levels of poverty during the current cost of living crisis which, if not adequately dealt with, will take its toll. negative. Harmful effect on the mental health of vulnerable people.
Mental health has long been considered the weak sister of health research. Spending in this area has remained flat for more than a decade, despite a steady rise in suicide rates, eating disorders, and referrals to mental health and psychiatric services. This commitment to research and development is a positive step, but only if we can secure further commitments from government for a 10-year mental health strategy with research and new innovation at its core.”
Leah Milligan, CEO, MQ Mental Health Research.
Can more be done?
in Response from a mental health centerit was pointed out that despite the autumn statement including the £3.3 billion announcement for the NHS:
“It is disappointing that the Autumn Statement does not make new pledges for public health spending. Local councils’ public health services play a vital role in supporting better health and disease prevention. They urgently need additional funding to offset the significant cuts they have seen since 2015.”
Prior to the release of the budget, MQ had already been a long-term advocate for more investment in mental health research. More than 2,000 people have written to their MPs calling for more investment, and MQ wasn’t the only organization putting pressure on the government.
in e-mail From the Association of Medical Research Charities to the UK government ahead of the fall statement, the signatories encouraged the chancellor to stick to the funding commitments she has already made:
“Health research is one of the UK’s great strengths which is driven by talented people, world-class universities, a thriving life sciences industry, patient-focused medical research charities and the unrivaled research potential of the NHS. This brings health benefits to patients and the public and generates economic returns for the country of 25% A penny for every investment pound, every year, forever.”
And while the government has committed to maintaining spending of £20 billion on research and development, the fact of the matter is that there is still more work to be done if we are to truly transform mental health research.
We need to invest in solutions for the 1 in 4 of us who will be diagnosed with a mental illness this year. We need to examine how we can deliver supports and services more efficiently in order to reduce waiting times, and we must explore new technologies that can be used to manage and even prevent symptoms of depression and anxiety.
How can we speed up diagnosis, provide more effective treatments, and even prevent the spread of these mental illnesses? Without research, it is just guesswork and without funding, research is not possible.
If you would like to help fund mental health research, please consider supporting MQ’s work. Could you Find out more here.