The UK Government has promised to make £6m available to assist children affected by their parents' alcoholism. The money will be spent on extra advice and support.
Specifically, more will be spent on increasing fast access to mental health services for children affected by these unfortunate circumstances. The money will also be spent on rehab programmes to help treat parents' addiction.
At Rehab 4 Alcoholism, we welcome the measure, but it does leave us questioning whether this is too little and too late. For instance, the Government has removed ringfencing for addiction treatment's budget when the responsibility for funding these treatment programmes was transferred from the NHS and passed on to local councils.
It's estimated that over 200,000 children in England alone live with parents suffering from alcoholism. Thus, we really do not feel that £6m is an adequate amount of money to help tackle the problem.
Frighteningly, the NSPCC says it has seen a 30% increase in calls concerning this very issue.
The funding is coming from the Department of Health and Social Care and the Department for Work and Pensions. Both departments have been synonymous with Tory austerity policies that have taken place in recent years. One cannot help but think the Government is giving with one hand to take away with another.
Funds will be spent to treat parents' alcoholism and to offer parents support to prevent children from going into care. Given over 200,000 children are suspected of living under these untenable conditions, it is truly difficult to imagine how far £6m will really go in helping to solve the problem. We cannot help but feel this is some sort of PR exercise to help prop up a Government which has run its course.
However, some in the Labour party have welcomed the Government's move. For instance, the shadow health secretary, Jon Ashworth, whose own father died from alcoholism, described the measure as a 'real breakthrough'.
The measure was also praised by Liam Byrne, another Labour MP. Like Ashworth, Byrne also lost his father to alcoholism. He said: "This is a huge step forward for Britain's innocent victims of booze; the kids of parents who drink too much and end up scarred for life."
Jeremy Hunt, Health Secretary said: "The consequences of alcohol abuse are devastating for those in the grip of an addiction, but for too long, the children of alcoholic parents have been the silent victims. This is not right, nor fair.
"These measures will ensure thousands of children affected by their parent's alcohol dependency have access to the support they need and deserve."