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The Crisis Blog: conversations on matters related to homelessness.

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Investment and innovation: our recommendations for the spending review

At the end of November, the Chancellor will announce the outcome of the long awaited spending review. This will lay out government spending for the next five years, so is a crucial date in the political calendar. We already know that while some budgets, like health and international aid, will be protected, others could be looking at cuts of up to 40% . It’s up to ministers now to decide how they can reduce spending without affecting the services that so many people rely on.

At Crisis we know only too well that the costs of homelessness to an individual are immense. The average age of death for a homeless person is just 47. Homeless people are more likely than the general public to have physical or mental health problems, and are 13 times more likely to be a victim of crime.

And to put it bluntly, homelessness is also extremely costly to the public purse. The government has estimated they spend £1 billion each year on services for homeless people.

We blogged earlier this year  about our research which showed preventing homelessness could save between £3000 and £18000 per year for each person helped. Investing in homelessness prevention where possible, and taking early action to help people if they do become homeless, will help to reduce government spending overall.

For this reason, we are calling on the government to:

  • Protect the Homelessness Prevention Grant for the next five years
  • Invest in affordable housing to provide places for people on low incomes to live and reduce the housing benefit bill
  • Integrate housing and employment support to help homeless people back into work

The government have also said they are committed to finding new ways to deliver services for vulnerable people, including promoting integration and innovation. The Department for Communities and Local Government are already planning a new programme for individuals, based on Troubled Families and the Department for Work and Pensions are looking at how they can reform the Work Programme to better help the most disadvantaged people.

We want the government to think about how they could bring some of this work together and deliver a cross-departmental programme for people with complex needs. This includes people who are experiencing homelessness, mental health problems and drug or alcohol addictions. It should involve joined up help from a range of different agencies – homelessness services, housing options, the NHS, the jobcentre and employment support providers. If we pool budgets and integrate services, we will deliver better support as well as making the very best use of existing budgets.

You can read our full submission to the Treasury here  . We will be working with government over the next few months to try and get our recommendations taken forward.