Open letter to Chancellor on C19
The Psychotherapy and Counselling Union (PCU) welcomes your statement of 17th March that the government will do ‘whatever it takes’ to support those affected by the economic crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic. Counsellors and psychotherapists provide an invaluable public service, which is all the more needed given the impact of the crisis on the nation’s mental health. However, the crisis is likely to lead to the closure of psychological therapy services, loss of jobs and income, and severe financial hardship affecting the viability of the profession.
Many counsellors and psychotherapists work for small counselling providers in the third sector, in schools and colleges, and in the private sector, on a self-employed basis or zero-hours contracts, meaning that they are not eligible for sick pay if ill or self-isolating, and will not receive any wages if the service is suspended. Those in private practice are also likely to face a very significant loss of income: many clients will not be able to continue attending their therapy, and the many therapists who rent consulting rooms will risk losing their workspace if they are unable to pay higher costs.
There is an urgent need for the government to consider targeted support for counselling and psychotherapy provision, including additional funds to enable counselling providers to pay their staff during closures, as well as the measures to reduce or suspend mortgages, rents and bills which we are seeing in other European countries. There is otherwise a risk of the collapse of a professional field which plays a crucial role in responding to mental health needs which the NHS does not have the capacity to meet.
We urge you to discuss with PCU and with relevant professional organisations (which include the UK Council for Psychotherapy, British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy, the British Psychoanalytic Council, the National Counselling Society and the Partners for Counselling and Psychotherapy) how counsellors and psychotherapists can be financially supported to continue the invaluable work they do to support mental health and wellbeing across our society.
We look forward to hearing from you.
Richard Bagnall-Oakeley on behalf of the
Psychotherapy and Counselling Union (PCU)