A Gedling councillor has written to Jeremy Hunt making an urgent plea for the renewal of local funding for suicide prevention in the Autumn Statement.
Councillor Henry Wheeler, Gedling Borough Council’s portfolio holder for lifestyles, health and wellbeing, reminded the chancellor that funding for local services is set to run out in March 2024 and that he fears they would be unable to continue unless they continue to receive cash from the government.
Cllr Wheeler wrote: “Locally here in Gedling many services that are delivered by volunteers and voluntary organisations as well as statutory services, may no longer receive funding for suicide prevention work. It also means Nottinghamshire County Council will struggle to deliver its suicide prevention strategy which is a crucial element of the Nottinghamshire Health and Wellbeing Board forward plan 2022 to 2026.
“Services will be impacted by a lack of funding meaning crucial support provided by local Mental Health Befriending Schemes, activities to tackle loneliness and isolation, as well as children and young people’s Mental Health support services in Gedling Borough will be impacted by cuts to funding.
“It is crucial that ring-fenced funding for local suicide prevention is renewed so that councils like Gedling can direct resources towards the most appropriate interventions for our local area. Samaritans estimate that this would cost around £ 77.1 million for the five-year duration of the new strategy, an equivalent of £1.40 per capita.
He concluded: “I hope you will confirm that this vital funding will continue in the upcoming Autumn Statement to enable local councils to play our part in reducing the number of people who die by suicide.”
The NHS Long Term Plan 2019 committed £57million ring-fenced for suicide prevention and bereavement services, so that each local Sustainability and Transformation Partnership (STP) or Integrated Care System (ICS) in England received money for a period of three years. An estimated £38 million of this went towards suicide prevention but in March 2024 all local funding is due to cease.
Figures show that suicide is the leading cause of death in males under 50 years and females under 35 years in the UK, with the latest available figures confirming that 5,219 people in England tragically took their own lives in 2021.