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UK Government Stealing Money From Child Mental Health Programme

Posted on 16th November 2016

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This BBC report describes how money pledged by the UK government for children's mental health is not getting to "the fromtline". The government promised "£1.4bn for child mental health by 2020" (an extra £250m a year), but instead, much of the money is being used "to offset NHS cuts elsewhere".

This, simply put, is theft and corruption. Do they really feel that, after making NHS funding a major issue in the Brexit referendum, it is OK to play fast and loose with taxpayers' money in this fashion? It is our money, and we have a reasonable expectation that there is honesty and transparency in government spending.

This is rather like what governments around the world did with pension funding. They collected money (in the UK, as National Insurance contributions) from taxpayers, for years, and used it to subsidise other parts of the government budgets; now the state government pension funds are not enough to pay the pensions that are due, resulting in the raising of retirement ages.

In my own work, I am often assigned budgets for specific expenditure (staff, computer systems, etc.) and I am expected to use the various budgets for the purposes for which they are assigned, and I get into trouble if I overspend. Why are governments not held to similar rules? I do, of course, understand that governments need a certain amount of discretionary budget to deal with natural disasters, unplanned military activity (e.g. peace-keeping), changes in national economic performance and the like, but most of the budget should be spent on the things for which it was authorised.

Not only do governments not follow the rules that business are required to follow, but even after the event it is usually not possible to discover exactly how much and on what they have spent our money. Businesses are required to publish audited accounts; it is well past time that governments were held to the same standards.