Londoners with severe mental health problems missing out on vital housing, says The King's Fund report

The housing needs of many people with severe mental health problems living in London are not being met due to a damaging postcode lottery, says The King's Fund report.

Housing for Londoners with Mental Health Needs, by Kathleen Boyle and Chris Jenkins, says there are severe variations in the amount of specialist housing available to people with mental health problems in different London boroughs which bear no relationship to need.

The report reveals the amount of specialist housing provided by housing associations for Londoners has remained static since the 1997 The King's Fund Inquiry into London's mental health. It also shows people living in supported housing have more complex needs than five years ago.

Kathleen Boyle said:

'Housing is central to mental health services, but the majority of homes are concentrated within inner London boroughs and many outer London boroughs are missing out. Overall, the supply of specialist housing is inadequate and the quality available is often poor.

'The situation is compounded as providers of specialist housing are often reluctant to accept people with the most complex mental health problems. This means that people with severe mental illness, particularly those with dual diagnosis of mental illness and substance misuse, find it difficult to find housing with support.'

Housing for Londoners with Mental Health Needs calls for better co-ordination of the government's Supporting People initiative between London boroughs, and urges London's eight 'excellent' boroughs to remain voluntarily within the Supporting People system for three years.

Notes to editors: 

Housing for Londoners with Mental Health Needs: A review of recent developments is by Kathleen Boyle and Chris Jenkins..

The report is one of a series being produced in 2003 as part of the King's Fund Mental Health Inquiry. The Inquiry aims to assess whether London mental health and mental health services have improved over the last five years. In 1997 the King's Fund produced a report entitled London's Mental Health, describing services in inner London 'that cannot be sustained'. The current Inquiry asks what, if anything, has changed since then, as well as tackling some new questions. The findings will be published later this year.

For review copies or interviews with the authors, please contact Daniel Reynolds on 020 7307 2581 or 07831 554927.