Time for political leadership on multiple needs

The government has stated its determination to tackle an escalating set of crises: homelessness, substance misuse, mental ill health and persistently high re-offending rates. Despite some progress, there is currently a fundamental flaw in the way we deal with these problems: we treat them as separate when they are connected. If this doesn’t change, things will only get worse – with appalling human and financial consequences.

Local areas across England are already taking action, coordinating their services to help some of society’s most vulnerable people. It is now time for the government to transform this country’s response to multiple needs: both by tackling the issues people experience today, and by seeking to prevent them from developing in the first place.

As the party conference season begins, the Making Every Adult Matter coalition has published Multiple needs: time for political leadership, a new publication setting out the scale of the challenge, and the action that government must take in response. It is based on consultation we carried out over the summer with experts by experience and frontline practitioners from our local partners.

In the publication, we ask government to:

  1. Commit: Show leadership as a government in tackling both the causes and consequences of multiple needs
  2. Collaborate: Take a collaborative approach across government so that every department is working together to address multiple needs, modelling the approach that local areas have shown can work
  3. Challenge: Set a clear expectation that every local area must take effective action to support people with multiple needs.
  4. Invest: Make sure flexible funding is available that encourages services to work together and allows them to respond to local needs.

In implementing these four steps, it is vital that the government listens to people who have experienced multiple needs, and bases its understanding on what it hears. In the publication, Ash and Anne describe their own experiences, and how the coordinated support they have received has helped them change their lives.

Over the coming months, we will be taking our proposals to all parts of government, and staff from across the MEAM coalition will be discussing the four steps outlined in the publication with politicians at party conferences. Later this autumn, we’ll bring together policymakers from across Whitehall departments to consider the report and how the four steps can be implemented.

We invite you to work with us and our partners to create the change that’s needed, and ensure that people reach their full potential and contribute to their communities.

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