The Financial Costs of Homelessness

Several studies have attempted to calculate the total cost to UK government of British homelessness. These studies have methodological limitations and concern various groups of homeless people, however, in 2012, the UK Government placed its own estimate of homelessness-related expenditure between £24,000 - £30,000 (gross) per person, annually, with a total estimated cost of £1 billion annually. Under scrutiny, this figure appears to be outdated.

In 2004, Crisis concluded that ‘hidden homelessness’ - meaning people who become homeless but find a temporary, unofficial solution - alone costs Britain as much as £1.4 billion every yearxxvii. In addition to this direct cost, there are further indirect costs and complex implications on other public services to consider. To give one illustration, it is estimated that poor housing implicates on the National Health Service in England by between £1.4 billion and £2 billion each year; furthermore, delayed hospital discharges – many which can be attributed to homelessness, sub-standard housing or domestic issues – cost the NHS £455 million annuallyxxviii.

London Councils’ submission to the Autumn Statement 2016 said that the placing of over 50,000 households in temporary accommodation was creating ‘extreme financial pressure’ for London boroughs - who are currently spending an additional £170 million per annum on temporary accommodation options from their general fundsxxix. Temporary accommodation placements – mainly payments to hostels, bed and breakfast-type establishments and hotels – cost the UK £700 million a year; or £2 million a dayxxx. With such weak evidence of their efficacy, shouldn’t alternatives be sought as priority?

In 2015, Crisis published ‘At What Cost? An Estimation of the Financial Costs of Single Homelessness in the UK’, clearly identifying that the monetary implications of singleperson homelessness increase in direct proportion to the distressing human cost of homelessnessxxxi. The ‘linear’, ‘continuum of care’ or traditional ‘staircase’- approach towards the issue of homelessness merely enables a cycle of mass destruction to occur, escalate, spiral – and continually evolve.

Citations

xxvii. https://www.crisis.org.uk/data/files/publications/HHBIC_report%5B1%5D.pdf (Web file removed)
xxviii. https://tameside.moderngov.co.uk/documents/s15724/ITEM%207%20-%20Housing%20and%20Health.pdf
xxix. https://researchbriefings.files.parliament.uk/documents/SN02110/SN02110.pdf
xxx. https://www.local.gov.uk/about/news/housing-shortage-forces-councils-spend-ps2-million-day-temporaryaccommodation
xxxi. https://www.crisis.org.uk/data/files/publications/CostsofHomelessness_Finalweb.pdf

Copyright © by Amy.F.Varle, January 2018.
The moral right of the author has been asserted.

The views and opinions expressed in this report and its content are those of the author and not of the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust, which has no responsibility or liability for any part of the report.

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When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
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