Since the general election of 2010, and the formation of a Coalition Government, it has been impractical to attempt to identify key government policy documents, as we have done in the past. The changes are too sweeping, too rapid, and often too unclear, with ministerial pronouncements and speeches often running some way ahead of formal government policy statements and legislation.
One exception to this general rule was the joint CLG/NMHDU guidance on meeting the psychological and emotional needs of homeless people, which was developed under the old government, but published - after some delay - under the new. We include this document - which is non-statutory guidance - partly because of the immediate relevance to our central concerns; and partly because we contributed to the thinking and the writing.
“New Horizons” is in abeyance, while the new government develops a new Mental Health Strategy. Yet many aspects of the old government’s approach to health and social care seems set to continue, even to accelerate. The impetus towards personalisation and individual budgets seems un-stoppable; and the drive towards better local co-ordination and integration of services remains.
The one most striking development here is probably the announcement of a public health policy, with a budget held at local authority level. (For the potential scope of this, see the brief quotation from Secretary of State Andrew Lansley on the “Big Idea” page.)
A white paper on public health was published pn 29th November; both in the papers itself, and in subsequent debates in the Commons and the Lords alike, housing is referred to as one of the key features of the social determinants of health that must be addressed.
It seems clear from past ministerial speeches - for example Anne Milton at the Kings Fund - that mental health, in the broadest sense, will figure as a major concern for public health.
Meanwhile, all aspects of social housing and welfare policy are under scrutiny, from housing benefit to the expectation of a lifetime tenancy. Both are the subject of much press comment, and it would be superfluous to add further at this stage.