Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock has said he knows “people have made sacrifices” for the economy, but thinks the are now starting to see the benefits.
Mr Hancock told talkRADIO’s Julia Hartley-Brewer: “The good news is that it appears that because the economy has been growing stronger, there is more money to go around.
“People have made some sacrifices over the last few years and there have been difficult decisions about the economy and that is all starting to bear fruit.”
- Read more: Budget 2018: The key announcements
- Read more: Matt Hancock: 'Treat mental health in the same way as physical health'
Earlier this month the Prime Minister announced the end of austerity during her keynote speech at the Conservative Party Conference.
Theresa May told delegates "a decade after the financial crash, people need to know that the austerity it led to is over and that their hard work has paid off".
'There is money in the coffers'
Ahead of the budget this afternoon, the Government announced an extra £2 billion a year for “crisis” mental health services.
Mr Hancock said: “This is the official announcement of how we make the budget work given that we are going to increase spending on the NHS by £20 billion.
“The answer to that conundrum - how we are going to find the money – is essentially that the economy is growing strongly. There is record low unemployment and that means that there is money in the coffers.
“That is because there has been good stewardship of the economy meaning we are able to spend on the nation’s priorities like the NHS.”
He added: “We have got to make sure that we get mental health services on a par with the services you would expect for your physical health.
“£2 billion is a significant increase over the next five years, which is all part of a long-term plan to make sure the NHS is there for you.
“Over a generation, mental health services have gradually started to catch up with physical health services.
“We talk about it a lot more which is good but there is still a long way to go until we get parity between the two.”
A 'balanced approach'
When asked about what funding other sectors would receive, the Health Secretary said Chancellor Philip Hammond has already spoke about more money for transport.
“I am sure you will hear more announcements from the Chancellor about his balanced approach to the economy,” he said.
“I am not sure it is about seats and elections, it is about governing the country effectively.
“He has already talked about more money for transport because our road infrastructure is getting full and we need to make sure people are able to get around.
“There is one other area, as well as health, that we are putting money into.”