New approach needed to help adults break out of cycle of crime, addiction and homelessness

Monday, 19 January 2015 - 12:14pm

Research published by Herriot Watt university reveals for the first time the alarming number of adults in England facing a combination of homelessness, substance misuse and offending behaviour.

Photograph: Amberrabbid (Flickr)
Photograph: Amberrabbid (Flickr)

The Hard Edges report, funded by Lankelly Chase, has uncovered that every year over 250,000 people in England have contact with two out of three of the homelessness, substance misuse and criminal justice systems and, 58,000 have contact with all three.

Pulling together previously separate national datasets, researchers have identified that the highest concentration of adults experiencing these issues is in the north of England, seaside towns and certain London boroughs. However the average council will see 1,500 cases per annum.

The report uncovers that many individuals with complex and multiple needs had experienced childhood trauma, including neglect, family breakdown and had disrupted educations. Almost one third had experienced violence from their parents, 42% ran away from home as children and two fifths have no qualifications at all.

As adults, many suffer alarming rates of isolation, unemployment, poverty and mental ill health.

Responding to the research, Rick Henderson, CEO of the umbrella body Homeless Link, said:

“What this study makes clear is that many vulnerable adults were failed as children. As a society we must act faster to ensure that the troubled child of today does not turn into tomorrow's troubled adult.

“We also need to take a new approach to helping those facing multiple disadvantages. We know that people struggling with complex problems are routinely failed by systems which tend to deal with one issue at a time.

“Evidence shows that if services work better together, providing personalised support not only does the individual benefit but it saves the tax payer money in the long-run”

The research states that "severe and multiple disadvantage is conservatively estimated to cost £10.1bn per year". 

In our manifesto, Homeless Link has called on the next government to develop a new national focus on multiple needs to ensure that local services work better together. A 2014 evaluation of pilots found that providing intensive support for adults with complex needs, can save money and improve wellbeing. 

Savings of up to 26% (£958 per client, per month) were achieved through more co-ordinated local services.

Read the full Hard Edges report here.

Talk To Us

Stephen Holland

Stephen served as our Communications Officer until January 2016.