Supporting the Government to improve the lives of people with multiple needs

Alongside a focus on delivering legislation for Brexit, this week’s Queen’s speech outlined a number of announcements relevant to people with multiple needs. As the new parliamentary session opens, Homeless Link Policy Manager Chris Brill asks: what should we be calling on Government to do?

People with multiple needs face a combination of issues including homelessness, substance misuse, contact with the criminal justice system and mental ill health. They fall through the gaps between services and systems, making it harder for them to address their problems and lead fulfilling lives.

Photo: Brad Hammonds on flickr

Photo: Brad Hammonds on flickr

Wednesday’s Queen’s Speech outlined the new Government’s proposed legislative programme for the next parliamentary session, now extended to two years. The following plans were announced:

  • A Tenants Fee Bill, aiming to ”make the private rental market more affordable and competitive.“
  • A Domestic Violence and Abuse Bill, to ”update the law to help tackle the evil of domestic abuse and violence.”
  • Reforms of mental health legislation and ”ensuring that mental health is prioritised in the National Health Service in England.”
  • ”Work to improve social care, including bringing forward proposals for consultation.“
  • Proposals to ensure more homes are built.

The Prison and Courts Bill was also mentioned as a courts bill, and we are now waiting to see whether legislation will be put before parliament on prison reform. There were aspects of this bill that were widely welcomed, such as making rehabilitation one of the purposes of prison in law, giving HM Inspectorate of Prisons more teeth, and giving the Secretary of State for Justice greater accountability (read more from Nathan Dick at Clinks).

Although the Queens speech outlines the proposed legislative programme for the next two years, a number of non-legislative commitments within the Conservative manifesto  are also of importance to people with multiple needs. The manifesto commits to:

  • Introducing dedicated provision for women in contact with the criminal justice system
  • A new homelessness reduction taskforce focusing on prevention and affordable housing and working to halve rough sleeping over the course of the parliament
  • Piloting Housing First
  • Supporting ”prisoners who require it to come off drugs and deal with mental health problems”
  • ”Ensuring that police and crime commissioners sit on local health and wellbeing boards, enabling better co-ordination of crime prevention with local drug and alcohol and mental health services.”

Many of these proposals have the potential to improve the lives of people with multiple needs. As a coalition formed to improve policy and services for people facing multiple needs, MEAM is committed to working with the Government to make this happen.

Over recent years we have supported 27 local areas across England to bring different services together and make changes that help people with multiple needs get the right support. However, the environment has been more difficult than it should be for services to work together. We have found examples of services not understanding the requirements of people with multiple needs, and of local commissioning being inflexible and preventing collaboration between organisations.

To ensure that future Government work really does make a different to the lives of people with multiple needs, things need to change both locally and nationally. Over the next six weeks, MEAM will be collecting the views of those with lived experience and front line practitioners from local partners using the MEAM Approach and areas that are part of the Fulfilling Lives programme in formulating our work with the new Government.

If you would like to help develop this work please get in touch with Laura Greason (Policy and Practice Officer) at laura.greason@meam.org.uk

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