Home-Start, a leading family support charity, has welcomed the £75 million to support mothers with perinatal mental health problems outlined in last week’s budget, but has warned that this needs to be just the start.

The impact of parental mental ill-health on both parents and their children is one of Home-Start’s three priority areas in its manifesto, launched in July 2014.

In the chancellor’s final budget before the general election he announced that £1.25bn would be spent on mental health services for children and new mothers over the next parliament, £75m of which was earmarked for providing the “right care to more women who experience mental ill health during the perinatal or antenatal period.”

Home-start points out that supporting parents is especially important as parents’ mental ill health can have a serious impact on children’s day-to-day life and on their long-term development.

Yet, while the charity welcomes the clear focus on this vital issue, it warns that £75 million over five years falls well short of what is required to make a lasting difference.

Liberal Democrat MP and Chair of the CentreForum Mental Health Commission, Paul Burstow, acknowledged the charity’s concerns and defended his party’s record on the issue.

He told PoliticsHome: “Home-Start are right to say that the £1.25bn announced in last week’s budget to support peri-natal mental health should only be the start of a better deal for children and parents with mental health problems. In this government the Lib Dems have insisted that mental health be made a priority in spite of the difficult economic climate, and perinatal and child mental health was one of many areas which had been historically neglected.

“That’s why we worked hard to make sure that funding for these services was secured before the end of this Parliament, and that as well as investing in perinatal mental health, there was funding committed to complete the roll out of the Increasing Access to Psychological Therapies programme for children and young people which I started when I was Minister for Mental Health. But as ever there is more to do."

Home-Start’s chief executive, Rob Parkinson, said “We are pleased that the government is waking up to the fact that there is a worrying lack of support for parents living with mental ill health across the country. It is why we put this issue at the heart of our manifesto. It is good that what we called for in July is being reflected in this budget.

“However, this £75 million must be just the start of sustained investment. A study by the London School of Economics and the Centre for Mental Health has shown that an extra £280 million of investment a year will help reduce the £8.1 billion annual cost to society through perinatal mental ill-health.”

Home-Start has a network of 15,000 volunteers who provide individual, tailored support to parents suffering from a range of problems, including mental ill-health.

Mr Parkinson added, “As our manifesto sets out, the next government must provide additional support to help children in these circumstances. In particular, the government should recognise the role volunteers play in helping children whose parents are suffering from mental illness. That is why we recommend that every parent who is at risk of, or suffering from, a mental illness should be offered the support of a trained befriending volunteer. We would welcome the chance to talk with any political party about how volunteer support can improve mental health provision.”