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Mental Health Services

Oral Answers to Questions — Treasury – in the House of Commons at 2:30 pm on 13th July 2010.

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Photo of Esther McVey Esther McVey Conservative, Wirral West 2:30 pm, 13th July 2010

What recent discussions he has had with the Secretary of State for Health on funding for mental health services.

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Photo of Danny Alexander Danny Alexander The Chief Secretary to the Treasury

I am grateful to the hon. Lady for her question. I know that she takes a great interest in these issues. We want to offer long-term solutions to people with mental health problems and provide psychological therapies to do that. Our coalition programme set out our intention to ensure greater access to talking therapies. That is why, on 23 June, the Secretary of State for Health pledged £70 million to continue the roll-out of psychological therapies across the NHS this year.

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Photo of Esther McVey Esther McVey Conservative, Wirral West

Given the dire financial situation the last Government have left us in, and the very real impact it will have on each and every one of our lives, will the Minister go further to explain the £70 million that he plans to spend on psychological therapies in the current financial year? That is particularly important when one in four of us will in the course of our lifetimes suffer from problems in our mental well-being-including finance-related stress, reminding us of our inheritance from the previous Government.

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Photo of Danny Alexander Danny Alexander The Chief Secretary to the Treasury

The hon. Lady is quite right to spell out the importance of tackling mental health problems, which, as she says, many people experience during the course of their lives, so it should be taken very seriously. That is why we have continued to roll out funding for the expansion of talking therapies, which in many cases are the most effective. I also note that, unlike the Labour party, we have pledged to increase health spending in real terms during every year of this Parliament to enable these sorts of problems to continue to be tackled-even in very tight financial circumstances.

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Photo of Meg Hillier Meg Hillier Shadow Minister (Home Office)

Investment in mental health through the NHS is very important. Equally, however, people with mental health problems are affected by many other issues, including the caps on housing benefit proposed in the Budget. Has the right hon. Gentleman had any discussions across Government about the impact of Treasury decisions-not just giving money away, but cutting funding-on people with mental health problems?

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Photo of Danny Alexander Danny Alexander The Chief Secretary to the Treasury

Supporting people with mental health problems through protecting the NHS budget is the best way to achieve the outcome that the hon. Lady suggests. There is also the Work programme, which is being developed by the Department for Work and Pensions to bring together and replace many of the employment initiatives of the previous Government, some of which were highly ineffective. Conditioned management of mental health problems will be part of that programme, which will help people with mental health problems back into work, which is, after all, the best route out of poverty.

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