The incoming government should launch a national programme of improved and coordinated support for those with multiple and complex needs, according to charity the Revolving Doors Agency. Any new government would be unable to afford to continue a situation where ‘shrinking public funds are tied up paying for the consequences of repeated failed interventions’, it says, with the organisation estimating the cost of ‘severe and multiple disadvantage’ at more than £10bn per year.
There are ‘a minimum’ of 58,000 people in England alone experiencing a simultaneous combination of substance problems, homelessness and offending, frequently linked with mental health issues, the charity says, with health and welfare systems designed to tackle single issues struggling to respond.
The agency is calling on the government to prioritise support for long-term recovery – including ‘the journey towards employment’ – which should include an immediate review of the impact of welfare sanctions on vulnerable groups. It also wants to see improved opportunities and provision for service user involvement, as well as effective community-based rehabilitation for offenders with multiple needs, including specific services for groups such as under-24s and women.
‘In a period of falling spending and rising demand on our public services, tackling the complex problems faced by individuals caught in this negative “revolving door” cycle must be a priority for whoever forms the next government,’ said chief executive Christina Marriott. ‘We cannot continue in a situation where public money is tied up paying for the consequences of repeated failed interventions – the financial, social and, above all, human cost of this failure is too great.
‘We want to see a system where people facing multiple and complex needs are supported by effective, coordinated services in every area, and are able to tackle their problems, reach their potential and contribute to their communities,’ she continued. ‘The evidence shows this could save public money while improving outcomes for some of the most excluded people in our society. We know what works. Now is the time for action.’
The Revolving Doors Agency manifesto 2015: Five priorities for an incoming government at www.revolving-doors.org.uk