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Russell Webster

Russell Webster

Criminal Justice & substance misuse expert and author of this blog.

We need a new focus on complex needs

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The report recommends investing £216 million over three years which should realise extensive savings since the current annual costs for the 58,000 individuals with substance misuse, criminal justice and homelessness problems is estimated at between £1.1 billion and 2.1 billion per year.

Individuals with multiple needs

The most recent (6 May 2015) report from Making Every Adult Matter (MEAM) calls for a new national focus on individuals with multiple needs. MEAM (which is a coalition of Clinks, Homeless Links and Mind) is responding to an announcement in the 2015 budget that the Government is committed to exploring options to integrate spending around vulnerable groups of people, including those with multiple needs.

The report, which draws on the recent “Hard Edges” research which maps the extent and profile of people with complex needs in England, makes five recommendations on how the new government should take forward this ambition of providing a better service for this client group.

  1. A national framework should initially focus on the 58,000 people identified as being in contact with homelessness AND substance misuse AND criminal justice systems in any one year, before being widened to cover the 164,000 people who have any two of these needs.
  2. National leadership – although there are examples of excellent practice, in most areas services still work separately. A new national focus, based on the Troubled Families model, would incentivise local action leading to cost savings and better outcomes for people with multiple needs.
  3. Empowerment – although national leadership is important, a “top-down” model is unlikely to be effective. The report recommends a national framework which combines the best elements of programmes like Troubled families, the Better Care Fund and Total Place but which is flexible enough to encourage a wide range of locally designed interventions.
  4. Investment – the report recommends investing £216 million over three years which should realise extensive savings since the current annual costs for the 58,000 individuals with substance misuse, criminal justice and homelessness problems is estimated at between £1.1 billion and 2.1 billion per year.
  5. Build on effective models – there is an increasing evidence base on what works with this client group, it will be important that new interventions havethe best possible chance of success.

It will be interesting to see whether the new government follows up on its budget commitments and is prepared to invest to save and deliver better outcomes for the most vulnerable group in society.

 

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