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Thursday, 11 May 2017

Liberal Democrats pledge extra £1bn a year for mental health services

Written by David Hughes

An extra £1 billion a year to improve mental health services will help cut waiting times and support measures to reduce the number of suicides, the Liberal Democrats have said.

Under the plans, the Lib Dems would ring-fence part of the £6 billion they plan to raise by putting 1p on income tax to boost funding for mental health programmes which have been "stretched to breaking point".

Former minister Norman Lamb (pictured) insisted the Lib Dems were the only party fighting for "genuine equality" for those suffering from mental ill health.

The Lib Dems have already announced their flagship plan for 1p to be added to the basic, higher and additional rates of income tax and the rate of dividend tax from the next financial year, to raise £6 billion for health and social care.

Of that money, £1 billion will be allocated to mental health measures.

Mr Lamb, the party's health spokesman, said: "The Liberal Democrats are committed to ending the historic injustice against people with mental ill health.

"Under the Conservative government, services have been stretched to breaking point at a time when the prevalence of mental ill health appears to be rising.

"Neither Labour nor the Conservatives have outlined how they will fund mental health services. We've made it clear that our priorities will be funded from our ambitious plan to inject £6 billion a year into the NHS with an additional penny on income tax.

"We will invest in improving waiting time standards for mental health care in the NHS, end the scandalous use of force against people with mental ill health and prioritise national action to dramatically reduce the number of people who take their own lives."

The plans also include measures to improve mental health in children and young people, including treatment for eating disorders.

Theresa May has already set out Tory plans for sweeping reforms to mental health services and legislation, including employing 10,000 more staff by 2020.

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