Spring Budget 2023: Government to focus on mental health and musculoskeletal issues at work

Government publishes new guidance on Job Retention Bonus

Spring Budget 2023: In addition to introducing support for disabled people and those unable to work due to long-term sickness absence, Chancellor of the Exchequer Jeremy Hunt has pledged government support for those forced to leave work due to mental health and musculoskeletal issues.

In his Budget statement today (15 March 2023), Hunt said: “We also want help for those who are forced to leave work due to health conditions such as back pain or a mental health issue. We should give them support before they end up leaving their job.”

Hunt introduced a £400m investment to increase the availability of mental health and musculoskeletal resources, and expand the placement and support scheme for individuals.

Plans include embedding tailored employment support within mental health and musculoskeletal services in England, including expanding the individual placement and support (IPS) scheme, and scaling up musculoskeletal hubs in the community.

In addition, the government will ensure digital resources such as apps for management of mental health and musculoskeletal conditions are readily available, so that more people can easily and quickly access the support that is right for them.

It will also pilot a new programme, WorkWell, to better integrate employment and health support for those with health conditions, supporting individuals into employment and to remain in work.

Hunt added that occupational health supports provided by employers were of the utmost importance, and the government would therefore bring forward two new consultations on how to improve its availability, as well as doubling the funding for the small companies subsidy pilot.

Katharine Moxham, spokesperson for Group Risk Development (Grid), said: “We must deal with the question of how people end up being economically inactive in the first place. In many cases, employees wouldn’t leave work if they were better supported by their employer.

“The support is available for [employers] to offer: they will find help within their benefits package: via their private medical [insurance], occupational health or other benefits. For example, as well as meeting the costs of long-term sick pay, a group income protection policy will include access to help from vocational rehabilitation experts, and access to advice and support with both short- and long-term health conditions and making reasonable adjustments under the Equality Act 2010.

“An insurer might even help with the extra costs of keeping someone in work – such as providing or modifying equipment – on an ex-gratia basis.”