Hunt gives nod to predecessor in cash boost pledge for suicide prevention work

The Government has promised a cash boost for suicide prevention work as the Chancellor gave a nod to his predecessor, whose brother took his own life in 2018.

Jeremy Hunt said that some £10 million would be made available to third sector organisations for their suicide prevention work.

Announcing the funding pot, Mr Hunt gave a nod to former chancellor Sajid Javid, whose brother Tariq took his own life in a hotel in Horsham, West Sussex, in July that year.

Chancellor Jeremy Hunt
Chancellor Jeremy Hunt made the funding announcement as he delivered his Budget (House of Commons/PA)

During his Budget speech, Mr Hunt said: “I note the personal courage of one of my predecessors (Mr Javid) in talking about the tragedy of suicide and the importance of preventing it.

“We already invest a lot in this area, but I will assign an extra £10 million over the next two years to help the voluntary sector play an even bigger role in stopping more families experiencing such intolerable heartache.”

In June last year, when he was health secretary, Mr Javid spoke of his “deeply personal” mission to prevent suicides.

After the Budget, he wrote on Twitter: “Delighted with this news which is going to support the incredible work of charities and others to help save lives.

“An excellent Budget 2023 announcement for suicide prevention. My thanks to Jeremy Hunt.”

The new funding announcement comes after Samaritans said it had dealt with record numbers of first-time callers worried about money and jobs.

The charity said it had handled an average of 400 calls a day in February related to finances or unemployment concerns.

The organisation said its figures showed that 9.7% of first-time callers had made contact due to such worries, up from 9.3% in January.

Commenting on the Budget announcement, Julie Bentley, chief executive of Samaritans, said: “Samaritans welcomes the Government’s announcement of more funding for the voluntary sector, recognising the important role it plays in helping to prevent suicide.

“However, suicide rates haven’t changed in 20 years and what we desperately need to save more lives is to build on this announcement with an ambitious and well-funded national suicide prevention strategy.”