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Tories criticise government on mental health

1st February 2007

The shadow welfare reform minister, David Ruffley, has criticised the government for cutting NHS services for people with mental health issues.

Mr Ruffley cited national mental health director's recent report which revealed that mental health services are currently under-funded and that the government "should be ashamed".

The cuts in funding have led to a substantial rise in the numbers of people claiming incapacity benefits on the grounds of mental health disorders, including stress, alcohol and drug abuse and anxiety, Mr Ruffley argued.

The number of people claiming on such grounds currently stands at just over one million, up from 732,000 in 1997.

Within this period, there has been a 194 per cent increase in the number of people claiming benefits due to severe stress, as well as a 75 per cent increase in those claiming due to depressive episodes.

Mr Ruffley said: "Furthermore, Labour's failure to implement NHS guidance on talking and cognitive therapies means that money is being needlessly wasted on incapacity benefits and lost tax receipts.

"The government urgently needs to make these treatments available to all who need them, on the NHS, as its own advisors have recommended," he added.