Wales failing people with mental health needs, say auditors

Auditors have called for action to improve housing and support services for people with mental health needs in Wales, after finding an ‘unacceptable’ lack of progress on the issue.

A Wales Audit Office report, published today, found that strategic planning remained poor and joint working between agencies was also often ineffective, despite ‘clear expectations’ set out by the Welsh Assembly Government.

The WAG also came under fire for its ‘ineffective’ monitoring of performance against its own housing targets.

The WAO issued a series of recommendations to combat the problem. It said social landlords should be required to work with local agencies to meet the needs of people with mental illness; public bodies should develop protocols for supporting people; and the WAG must clarify its expectations of health, housing and social care bodies.

The report also emphasised that providing quality, stable housing, along with care and support services, was ‘critical’ to keeping people with mental illness independent, and stopping them from becoming socially excluded.

Jonathan Morgan, chair of the Assembly’s Public Accounts Committee, said it was ‘unacceptable that so little progress has been made in improving the planning and delivery of housing services for people with mental health needs’.

Huw Vaughan Thomas, auditor general for Wales, added: ‘Given the importance that access to good housing has on the independence and inclusion of adults with mental health needs, Wales really does need to get to grips with this issue fast.’