Yesterday at Shire Hall Gloucestershire Conservatives announced their spending plans for 2017.
And in a controversial move they announced that they will be cutting the public mental health budget by a massive 30%.
In a series of questions directed at Tory bosses at the County Council’s Cabinet meeting this morning, Liberal Democrats voiced their anger at cuts hitting the most vulnerable in the county. Budget papers show that the amount being spent on ‘Public Mental Health’ - which includes work to prevent mental illness – is to drop by £130,000.
Liberal Democrat Group Health Spokesperson and Chair of Gloucestershire's Health and Care Overview and Scrutiny Committee (HCOSC), Cllr. Iain Dobie (Leckhampton and Warden Hill) said:
“At the County Council meeting last week I highlighted the fact that the Tories had decided to cut spending on adults with Learning Disabilities for the past two years and were planning to continue to cut funding for this next year, should they retain power. As I illustrated at the Council meeting by the case of Sue, my constituent, these cuts have serious consequences for vulnerable adults.
“This week the spotlight is on the cut of almost one third which Conservative County Councillors are planning for preventative mental health spending from next year's Public Health budget. This at a time when vulnerable children and young people in our county's schools and colleges are suffering unprecedented levels of psychological stress, as shown by increasing levels of self-harm.
“I believe that cuts to County Council spending on mental health and Learning Disabilities are likely to result in vulnerable people ultimately being driven towards more expensive NHS treatment. So these Tory cuts are "penny wise and pound foolish" - as well as cruel.”
Liberal Democrat Group Leader, Cllr. Paul Hodgkinson (Bourton and Northleach) added:
“The cuts we are seeing in the public health budget this year are vicious and deeply concerning. They will have a significant impact on the essential prevention and health protection services provided to residents across Gloucestershire.
“Investing in public health is vital in keeping pressure off the NHS and Adult Social Care.
“The key objective of preventing illness before it happens is being undermined by such a blatant reduction in its budget.”