Association of Mental Health Providers

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Response to DHSC’s Market Sustainability and Fair Cost of Care Fund – Review next steps

What about mental health service provision?

In response to the Government’s Market Sustainability and Fair Cost of Care Fund – Review next steps, Kathy Roberts, CEO of Association of Mental Health Providers, the national voice of VCSE (Voluntary, Community and Social Enterprise) mental health service providers, says:

“We welcome DHSC’s review, however, there is little in this communication update which gives us confidence that 2023/24 social care funding will be appropriately allocated to where it is needed the most. We believe an urgent funding review is also required to keep people with mental illness, living with mental distress and their unpaid carers safe and well in the community, and we will be seeking clarification on areas of concern.

Our members have been sharing concerns their social care and support services, namely mental health and learning disabilities have not been recognised in this funding analysis, because they are not ticking the right box.

While Government expects Local Authorities to use the insight gained from their cost-of-care exercises to support their over 65 residential care and 18+ domiciliary care commissioning and contract negotiation, these prices are not indicative rates or beneficial for the thousands of community-based mental health and learning disabilities services.

Furthermore, the review appears to question the disparity in care costs between local authorities. There are significant health inequalities in England; the Health Foundation’s Quantifying health inequalities in England analysis found people living in the North East and North West have the highest healthcare needs due to long-term illness once the data had been standardised for age.

In the North East particularly, it found these inequalities in health start at an early age, with higher rates of diagnosed mental health conditions, chronic pain and alcohol problems starting to develop as early as the late teens and early twenties.

It stands to reason therefore that we must target funding and service development at those people within our communities who will experience a higher call on both physical and mental health social care services.

We call now for the government to undertake a similar analysis of the commissioning and funding arrangements that are in place for those providers supporting the prevention or worsening of mental health conditions; in doing so, the government will reduce the risk for people reaching crisis point and presenting at the NHS for support.

The value of the VCSE sector in addressing the care and support needs of nearly 1 in 8 people in our country must be recognised. Particularly how we support mental health inequalities at local, regional, and national levels must be recognised and must be factored into any review of the commissioning process.

However, with the post-pandemic effect on our economy and the cost-of-living crisis, our nation’s mental health and well-being is rapidly deteriorating, and potentially more people will be calling on these already stretched services.

We hope both central and local government colleagues recognise this value, and going forward all Voluntary, Community and Social Enterprise services essential for mental health support are included in any social care planning strategies and commissioning; most notably by the uplift of social care fees for the new financial year 23/24 as currently we still have no idea of what to expect.

Providers of mental health services need clarification of local authority budget arrangements at the earliest point in January 2023 so they can continue to operate, to keep millions of people out of hospital, and living safe and well in our communities.”

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Note to editors

Association of Mental Health Providers is the representative body for voluntary and community sector mental health organisations in England and Wales.

We represent:

  • 300 plus members,
  • Delivering over 3000 services locally, regionally and nationally,
  • reaching 8 million+ people with poor mental health and illness in the community. This equates to 1 in 8 people receiving support from a voluntary and community mental health service provider.

Through our Living Experience Advisory Group, we are working with, being guided by, and learning from people with experience of mental health services.

For more information, visit

Contact: Annie Waddington-Feather


Telephone: 07713646419

We support, influence, advise, and inform, and are deeply committed to discussing and reporting stories relating to mental health responsibly, helpfully, and in a way that takes into account the needs of the most vulnerable members of the population. Please read the media charter here.

The Association can also be found on Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook.