The wellbeing value of tackling homelessness

By Mary-Kathryn Rallings Adams - on 01/09/2015

Last year, HACT and Simetrica embarked on a new project, aimed at determining whether we could place a monetary value on the wellbeing uplift people experience by moving into secure housing. With the support of Affinity Sutton, Family Mosaic and Midland Heart, we explored key issues around homelessness, using the same rigorous statistical methods applied to calculate the values in our Social Value Bank.

Housing associations engage in a range of work beyond the provision of a home. Using the Wellbeing Valuation Approach, HACT and Simetrica developed the Social Value Bank, the largest and most methodologically consistent bank of values housing providers can use to evidence the social value of their work in areas like employment, financial inclusion and health. The Social Value Bank has become an industry standard for understanding the impact and value of community investment activities.

Through consistent application of the Wellbeing Valuation Approach, it is in principle possible to establish and place a value on the wellbeing impact of almost any aspect of housing providers' work, if suitable datasets can be identified or collected. The outcomes covered by the Social Value Bank are focused on those that are experienced by people living in secure housing, as the datasets underlying the analyses – the British Household Panel Survey and Understanding Society, primarily – are collected exclusively from those in households.

Supporting vulnerable people into secure housing is clearly a hugely important area of work for social housing providers. But how can we quantify the impact of actually moving an individual into secure housing from street homelessness or from temporary accommodation? Traditionally, we talk about the impact of rough sleeping in terms of the extra demand homeless people place on public services such as the NHS and Police.  Early intervention in rough sleeping is estimated to save the taxpayer £3-18k for each person helped, according to Crisis research. For the first time, this research by HACT and Simetrica begins to quantify the human cost of rough sleeping, and measure the improved wellbeing a secure home can provide to the individual.

Evidence in the UK about how housing circumstances impact on life satisfaction is, in general, small scale and narrow in focus. So, we turned to data from the Journeys Home survey, run by the Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research at the University of Melbourne and commissioned by the Australian Government Department of Social Services. A longitudinal panel survey, Journeys Home interviews around 1,700 adult individuals once every six months.

In the absence of a UK-based dataset of this nature, the Australian context provides a good proxy. Previous studies have shown a high level of consistency between the key drivers of life satisfaction across OECD nations, so it is reasonable to use findings calculated from an Australian dataset where no closer one exists.

The survey questions in Journeys Home focus on the living and housing challenges faced by respondents, gathering data on:

  • Housing and living arrangements;
  • Health and wellbeing;
  • Income and financial stress; and
  • Use of support services.

We have been able to calculate values for three tenure shifts (rough sleeping to temporary accommodation, rough sleeping to secure housing, and temporary accommodation to secure housing), and for adults with dependent children, as well as adults without dependent children. Crucially, this work will enable housing providers and others to assess and measure the impact of experiencing homelessness, and to place a value on tackling it. Results and values in this paper are consistent with, and therefore directly comparable to, the values in the Social Value Bank.

We are excited to announce that the report and values will be launched in September, and the values will shortly thereafter be updated in the Social Value Bank. If you would like more information, or if you would like to be kept up to date on details of the launch of the report and accompanying values, please get in touch with MK ( 


Just launched yesterday!

Hi Matthew - they became available yesterday! Check under our research section under Current Projects or under our news section. Any questions please do get in touch and we'd be happy to chat through.

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