NHS England announces areas to receive new funding to improve employment support for people with severe mental illness

As outlined in the Five Year Forward View for Mental Health and Implementing the Five Year Forward View for Mental Health, NHS England has committed to doubling access to Individual Placement and Support (IPS) services nationally by 2020/21, enabling approximately 20,000 people who experience a severe mental illness (SMI) to find and retain employment.

Rates of employment are lower for people with mental health problems than for any other group of health conditions. IPS is an evidence-based approach to providing employment support for people experiencing severe mental health problems, shown to be twice as effective as vocational rehabilitation and associated with reduced use of other services including inpatient admissions. In 2016/17, IPS services in England achieved approximately 2,300 job outcomes.

Earlier this year, NHS England launched transformation funding to support the national expansion of IPS services. Funding is being allocated in two targeted waves over the next three years.

The first wave, which totals approximately £10 million of funding across 2018/19 and 2019/20, will support the expansion of well-established, high quality IPS services. The 21 areas allocated wave 1 funding have all been notified and are working at pace to expand services as per their bids. Meanwhile, the second wave of funding, which we hope to launch later this year, will support increasing provision in other areas that have IPS services which require further development, or no current IPS service provision.

Among the IPS services to receive wave 1 funding, and which uses evidence-based strategies to support people with SMI into employment, is Northamptonshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust.

An independent consortium was commissioned by the government’s Joint Work and Health Unit to support the growth of IPS services. As part of its work, the consortium has produced a number of useful tools and templates to support the growth of consistently high quality IPS services. These can be accessed at

The 21 areas allocated wave 1 IPS funding are listed below:

  • Bedford, Luton and Milton Keynes STP
  • Black Country and West Birmingham STP
  • Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire and Berkshire West STP
  • Cheshire and Merseyside STP
  • Devon STP
  • Frimley STP
  • Herefordshire and Worcestershire STP
  • Lincolnshire STP
  • Mid and South Essex STP
  • North East London STP
  • North West London STP
  • Northamptonshire STP
  • Shropshire STP
  • Somerset
  • South East London STP
  • South West London STP
  • Staffordshire and Stoke on Trent STP
  • Suffolk and North Essex STP, and Hertfordshire and West Essex STP
  • Sussex and East Surrey STP
  • West Yorkshire and Harrogate STP