On Tuesday, I attended the Westminster Hall debate on a five-year plan for mental health, which resulted from the excellent report by and work of the all-party parliamentary group on mental health. I highlighted the fact that in Hartlepool there is currently no walk-in centre for people in crisis, and the crisis service itself is so stretched that I have heard reports that people in crisis are waiting for two hours or more to access help. Many of those people in crisis in Hartlepool are young people. I just hope that the money promised by the Chancellor for mental health services will help to provide better access to crisis services for my constituents.
That service sits alongside our local acute trust, which provides over 50 services from our local hospital and is in deficit to the tune of millions of pounds. Indeed, it has just been announced that there is a repairs backlog of £48.9 million in the trust. That is a ticking time bomb, but it is the result of an understandable focus on supporting and propping up frontline services.
Following the loss of Sure Start, an excellent pre-educational programme, children in Hartlepool lack vital support, despite the best efforts of the local council and the NHS. Sadly, we have some of the most deprived wards in the country. We have in-work, third-generation household poverty. If it were not for food banks, charities and council interventions, especially during school holidays, many of our kids would go hungry.
As for local government, the Chancellor has seemingly put extra funding into adult and children’s services and social care but, in all honesty, he continues to choke the life out of our councils and public services. This Budget does nothing to end austerity, and by promising jam tomorrow, the Chancellor only perpetuates it. There is no money for policing and no money for further education. My constituents are dogged, determined, and deserve a damn sight better.