The National Social Inclusion programme (NSIP) was initially established to coordinate the delivery of the Social Exclusion Unit's (SEU) report, “Mental Health and Social Exclusion” and its 27-action points through a cross government national team with far-reaching national and regional partnerships to support its work.
NSIP has configured its work plan in line with national and regional priorities and previous progress made by them is detailed in their first, second and third annual reports, of 2005, 2006 and 2007 respectively, which are available from NSIP's website:
However, more recently, my right hon. Friend Alan Johnson launched the training package “Open to All” at the Wallace Collection which has been developed to help museums and galleries to be more inclusive for people with mental health problems through arts participation, access to galleries and museums, and employment and volunteering opportunities in the sector.
Further progress on the implementation of the recommendations in 2008 includes, the publication of “Connect and Include—an exploratory study of community development and mental health”, which includes a brief review of literature relating to relevant policy and practice, a survey and interviews including community development practitioners, people with experience of mental health problems, and staff from mental health services.
NSIP has also published the review “From segregation to inclusion: Where are we now?” which identifies the modernisation progress to date and highlights common issues, approaches to address them and examples of good practice, and revised the “Really Useful Book of Learning and Earning”, 80,000 copies of which have been distributed to care services, Jobcentre Plus, employment programme learning and training providers.
The implementation of the SEU report actions continues through the Community Participation work stream—which concentrates on developing the local level impact of the social inclusion agenda. This work stream contains the areas housing, arts, criminal justice, families and young people, day services and direct payments.
Access to direct payments should be available to all people eligible to receive them. There is evidence that the take up of direct payments is also sometimes hindered by a lack of adequate support or information, or unnecessarily complicated processes. Therefore the Department has developed the direct payments uptake project to support local councils and their partners.
According to Commission for Social Care Inspection figures, in March 2006, there were 1,477 people with mental health issues (aged 18-64) receiving direct payments. This rose to 2,085 people in March 2007.
The independent individual budget evaluation was designed to examine outcomes for specific groups of service users which include people with mental health problems. 13 local authorities took part in these pilots and of these, five local authorities included mental health service users in their pilots: Barnsley, Coventry, Lincolnshire, Norfolk and Oldham, which was exclusively with mental health service users.
The evaluation of the individual budgets pilots found that mental health service users receiving individual budgets reported significantly higher quality of life than those receiving traditional services. A number of these service users had not found the services available under conventional arrangements to their liking, and saw an individual budget as an opportunity to access more appropriate support. Although not significant statistically, the data also suggest some tendency for psychological well-being to be better for those mental health service users receiving an individual budget.