The mental health, economic and societal benefits of co-locating welfare advice in primary care


Links between social deprivation and mental health are well documented. People experiencing mental ill health may find it harder to access advice and support for social issues.

Worsening economic hardship impacts upon patients’ health and GP time pressures.

Co-locating welfare advice services in primary healthcare settings has been one approach to increasing income among socially deprived groups. It is also hoped that it will relieve pressure on general practices.

Previous evaluations have been methodologically limited and effectiveness has not yet been established.

We provided the first evidence-based data on the benefits of co-locating welfare advice services in GP settings, demonstrating significant improvements in patient mental health and well-being, reaching those most in need and supporting healthcare staff.

Key Findings

Advice recipients gained on average £15 per capita for every £1 spent by commissioners – averaging £2,689 per person.

Patients had up to 91% greater reductions over time in common mental disorder, improved mental well-being and 58% greater reduction in financial strain.

Nearly half of advice recipients would not have sought advice or would have turned to their GP had the service not been there.

Co-located services also reduce pressure on GPs and practice staff and increase their capacity to support patients.


The evidence generated directly led to co-located services being retained in primary care and new services being established in a mental health-based settings.

The Ministry of Justice Strategy on legal support (Feb 2019) recommends exploring new ways of delivering legal support including embedding legal advice in other services, such as primary care.

Partners & Collaborators

University College London

Haringey Council

Lead Investigator
Investigating Team
Charlotte Woodhead (UCL, Haringey Council)
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