SNP ministers criticised for ‘sneaking out’ £30m cut to mental health services

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Alex Cole-HamiltonScottish Liberal Democrat leader Alex Cole-Hamilton
Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Alex Cole-Hamilton
The Scottish Liberal Democrats said services are already under pressure

SNP ministers have been criticised for “sneaking out” a £30 million cut to mental health services in Scotland.

Shona Robison, the deputy first minister and finance secretary, revealed the cut in a letter to a Holyrood committee about in-year budget changes last month.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

She said the current financial situation is among the most challenging since devolution and she had had to make “difficult decisions”.

Ms Robison cited rising inflationary pressures and the cost of public sector pay deals. “In the absence of additional funding from the UK Government, I have no option but to make these tough choices,” she wrote to Holyrood’s finance committee.

The letter details £29.9 million of cuts to mental health as a result of “reprofiling” and “postponement” of spend on the mental health recovery and renewal fund, and the mental health transformation fund.

Cuts will affect mental health and primary care, child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS), and mental health support for prisoners – as well as an initiative to reduce delayed discharges.

The details were highlighted by the Scottish Liberal Democrats, whose leader, Alex Cole-Hamilton, said: “My party has spent years pressing the government about the importance of putting mental health practitioners into surgeries in every corner of Scotland, cutting waiting lists and improving access to mental health support.

“After [First Minister] Humza Yousaf broke his personal commitment to clear mental health waiting lists in the spring, he and [health secretary] Michael Matheson will now have to explain to everyone why they have snuck out a £30 million cut to under pressure mental health services.

“I cannot understand how SNP ministers can hear the stories of children and adults in mental torment and respond with more cuts.

“Scotland needs world-class mental health services. Scottish Liberal Democrats will deliver them. That’s why we’ve just set out plans to increase the tax paid by the social media giants – a move that could help fund more mental health support in schools and get more professionals close to where you live.”

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

The Lib Dems previously revealed that just 14 per cent of GPs believed their practice had sufficient access to mental health practitioners.

SNP mental wellbeing minister Maree Todd said difficult decisions had had to be made to balance the budget.

She said: “The financial pressures across health and social care are, by far, the most challenging since devolution because of high inflation, and the ongoing impact of Covid and Brexit. Difficult decisions have had to be made across government to balance the budget and prioritise supporting services, and to make a record pay offer to our NHS staff to best support them through the cost-of-living crisis and to avoid industrial action.

“Between the Scottish Government and NHS boards we expect spending on mental health to be well in excess of £1.3 billion in 2023-24. The revised direct mental health programme budget for 2023-24 is still more than double the 2020-21 budget. Most of the spending on local mental health services is delivered through NHS board budgets – and this is not directly affected by the budget reprioritisation.”



Want to join the conversation? Please or to comment on this article.