Making the business case
A business case can be made for the financial value of effective prevention to homelessness and children’s services provision.
The value of prevention work
The Depaul report Can we afford not to? presents strong arguments for the cash value of savings made in homelessness and children’s services provision through effective prevention.
The key arguments are as follows:
- It is estimated that prevention is successful in 90% of cases where a young person is still living in the family home when prevention work begins, as compared with 64% of cases where the young person has already left home at a point of crisis
- spend/save calculations in the report result in a conclusion that (very approximately) for every £1,000 spent annually on effective prevention work, £26,000 per annum is saved in the costs of assessing, supporting and accommodating homeless 16 and 17 year olds. (This calculation is, however, very dependent on rates of success, local costs (and duration) of support and accommodation of homeless young people to whom a duty is owed, and the proportions locally between young people accommodated under the Housing Acts and under the Children Act.)
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Cost effectiveness in homelessness prevention strategies
Authorities and their partners preparing a homelessness prevention strategy will therefore wish to consider:
- what is the most cost-effective mix of preventative interventions?
- how can we get best value for money in providing these services?
- what is the real cost of providing the most positive pathway possible for those young people for whom homelessness is not preventable?
Based on a review of published studies of preventative services’ effectiveness, some general pointers might include:
- One-to-one work with young people and parents (mentoring, mediation, parenting support, family support) are most effective in preventing homelessness and promoting a better-informed, planned and timely transition to living separately
- It is extremely difficult to demonstrate the preventative savings of work in schools and youth services but such services may be essential as a means of identifying and subsequently working with young people at risk of homelessness and their parents
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For more information, see the section on peer learning examples and the section on research and statistics.
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