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This Week in Westminster

This week was particularly busy as the outcome of the Spending Review was announced

By Kerri Prince, Public and Political Affairs Lead at BASW

This week was particularly busy as the outcome of the Spending Review was announced by the Chancellor on Wednesday, which spurred many organisations and politicians across the country into scrutinising where the Government was allocating money for the next 12 months – and where they were not.

BASW UK Chief Executive Ruth Allen wrote earlier this week about the public sector pay freeze, and BASW outlined the five areas that were looking for in the Chancellor’s announcements.

As someone with a particular interest in how as a country are responding to the mental health crisis which will only be exacerbated by COVID-19 and the lockdown measures that it brings, I was incredibly disappointed to not hear the Chancellor talk about mental health even once.

On the face of it, £500m that has been allocated in the small print to reducing mental health lists, this does not go far enough and we need to see a proper mental health strategy with the accompanying required budget to prevent mental health issues needing high-level intervention in the first place.

Another issue that gripped the headlines is foreign aid spending being reduced from 0.7% to 0.5% of gross national income, which will spark anger in those who believe it is Britain’s duty to support poorer countries, especially during a time when we are in a worldwide pandemic.

This Spending Review only covers the next 12 months, so there will be another opportunity for BASW to feed into Government spending commitments.

The Prime Minister also announced that the England lockdown will come to an end on 2nd December, with most of the country moving in Tier 2 or Tier 3 restrictions which will be reviewed on 16th December.

This tier scheme is set to be in place until the Spring, with hopes that the widespread implementation of a vaccination schedule will bring a difficult 12 months to a close.

Decisions about lockdowns are a devolved matter, with tier restrictions in place in Scotland, restrictions across Wales, and Northern Ireland starting a two-week circuit-breaker from today.

As always, BASW continues to identify issues in Westminster that matter to our members that we can influence and work to ensure that members voices are being heard.