Briefing 49: A basic need

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Housing policy and mental health

Ian Bradshaw

2 June 2016

The Housing and Planning Act 2016 was just the latest in a series of government actions to reform how the state supports vulnerable people who cannot afford housing on the open market. This is an issue of obvious interest to those concerned with mental health policy given the well-established links between housing and wellbeing.

Recent changes to housing policy have affected housing benefits and the provision of affordable housing. Our latest briefing, A basic need explores the impacts of these reforms on those with severe and enduring mental health problems, and on mental health services as a whole. 

The changes to benefits may result in many people who live with mental health conditions, especially in high cost areas, receiving less than they need to cover the rent of a suitable home. And whilst national guidance is clear that people made vulnerable by a mental health condition should be given 'reasonable preference', it is unclear whether this is being effectively reflected in everyday practice.

A basic need considers the actual and potential impact of these policy reforms, the significance of affordable housing to mental wellbeing, and potential priorities for mental health policy going forward. 

Read more about supported housing and mental health here.

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