Council to invest almost £3 million to build joined-up support system

Essex County Council

Essex County Council - Credit: Archant

People who live with significant multiple disadvantages are set to receive Essex County Council support worth nearly £3 million.

The council hopes to tackle challenges such as homelessness and substance abuse through grants totalling £1.9 million from the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities and £900,000 from the National Lottery Community Fund.

Four years ago, a council report highlighted that an estimated 3,500 people who were homeless had offended, or were dealing with substance abuse in Essex.

Each individual living with significant multiple disadvantages, or SMDs, is thought to cost the public sector £41,124 excluding benefits per year, according to the Making Every Adult Matter coalition of charities.

Many people with SMDs live with learning disabilities, financial issues, physical health needs or accommodation issues.

The money to support people living with SMDs will come from the government's Changing Futures scheme to create a joined-up support system.

Essex County Council will invest £900,000 in district and borough councils across Essex to boost their support capacity for people with SMDs, and a further £450,000 to create new mental health and wellbeing posts.

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A £300,000 package will be spent on an existing Offenders with Complex and Additional Needs Contract with a housing association called Phoenix Futures.

Essex County Council's cabinet released a statement on the programme.

It read: "One of the main challenges is services being generally equipped to treat or support single issues, rather than being able to address multiple needs at one time.

“One consequence of this is that, for example, somebody with SMDs ends up being admitted to Accident and Emergency, or arrested by the police and taken into custody.

“Due to their multiple needs, those with SMDs are then prevented from successfully engaging with treatment or support, and so fall through the gaps.

"For example, a person with substance misuse issues may be refused mental health support.

"Similarly, those with mental ill-health may be made homeless or prevented from accessing housing support due to the manifestation of that mental ill-health and lack of necessary support to help them sustain a tenancy."