Plan to remove proposal for reductions in contributions to Oxfordshire’s mental health budget

A proposal to change Oxfordshire County Council’s contribution level to budgets held by the NHS for mental health has been significantly changed in response to public feedback.

The proposal to be considered by the council’s cabinet on January 22 is to remove entirely the originally proposed £1m reduction in the council’s contribution to NHS mental health budget and to delay a £600,000 saving against mental health social workers by a year.

Councillor Lawrie Stratford, Oxfordshire County Council’s Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care and Public Health, said: “We are grateful for the reasoned feedback we have received from Oxfordshire people and organisations and we have listened. The feedback given was often set within the wider national debate on mental health services.

“Our newly configured proposals will protect spend on mental health services, particularly those delivered by the voluntary sector, whilst providing both Oxford Health and the County Council longer to plan for and deliver savings against spending on social work staffing for mental health.

“Although our contribution is only a comparatively small part of the overall mental health spending in Oxfordshire, the feedback we received left us in no doubt that it is a valued part of our work to care for those in the greatest need in Oxfordshire.

“We will work with Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group on a full and transparent review of resource allocation with a view to ensuring that voluntary groups are fairly treated.”

Changes to the £600,000 staffing reduction mean that there will be no reduction in 2019/2020 with the first reduction will be £300,000 in 2020/2021. The planned investment of £624,000 in special educations needs and safeguarding social workers will however still go ahead in 2019/20.