The costs of not helping

It is our contention that as a society we cannot afford the cost of exclusion: of which homelessness is an extreme form. Recent research from our cousins at Tyneside Cyrenians followed the journey of three men using their services to change their lives. The report assesses the annual average financial costs of the men being homeless, on benefits and customers of addiction and criminal justice services as being over £30,000 and compares that to their financial impact on society post rehabilitation. It demonstrates an 89% reduction in cost to the public purse. The cost of the 6 months rehabilitation programme was just over £7,000 per person. Doesn’t that look like a good investment?

There is an increasing bank of similar evidence. Crisis’ report, How Many, How Much? is another excellent contribution. We ourselves have a couple of initiatives underway to establish a trustworthy methodology and to systematically produce verifiable evidence of the social and financial benefits of our interventions; more of which anon.

Of course the economic argument is only part of the case. I’ll even admit to it not being my primary motivation when cycling to work in the morning. I hate to see people with the potential to give so much languishing in the poverty trap, the jaws of which are a vicious combination of systemic disadvantage and personal despair.

But it is critically important – especially with the public spending tempest coming our way – that we do demonstrate with solid evidence that our ‘life changing work’ is actually achieving that, and governments will save money in the long run if they invest in what is shown to work.


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