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Investing in social and affordable housing could save UK £1.5 billion a year

Researchers say that investing more in social and affordable housing would save money by reducing costs associated with homelessness.
"A lack of affordable housing affects all of us in some way, either directly or indirectly. Our report demonstrates that addressing the housing crisis in the UK would improve the lives of everyone." Kerry Littleford, Co-Author, MSc Public Health Alumna, LSHTM

A new report proposes that investing in affordable housing would reduce costs in the areas of housing and other benefits across the UK, leading to estimated savings of £1.5 billion annually.

The report, composed by researchers from UCL, the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) and the Royal Free Hospital Education Trust, calculates the economic savings that could be made by tackling the current housing crisis and summarises the physical, mental and social impacts of homelessness. 

They estimate that around 300,000 people may currently be experiencing homelessness in the UK, which they describe as people living in temporary accommodation, insecure or inadequate housing and rough sleepers. In the last decade, the number of people living in temporary accommodation has also increased by 74%, according to the report.

Through their analysis of previous investigations and published data, they propose that investing more in social and affordable housing would lead to a substantial saving for the UK government, by reducing the estimated £6.5 billion-a-year costs associated with homelessness.

The report also highlights several examples of recently-built social and affordable housing which could be scaled nationally.

Co-author Kerry Littleford, who contributed to the research while studying as a MSc Public Health student at LSHTM, said:

“It’s estimated that around 300,000 people may currently be experiencing homelessness in the UK, including 120,000 children. We believe that these figures most likely undercount the true numbers.

“Living in unstable and precarious housing is a well-established determinant of poor health outcomes and excess mortality. It also has clear impacts on the wider social aspects of people's lives including access to employment and academic achievement.

“Our hope is that this report leads to a transformative national housing plan, bringing together policy-makers, local authorities, architects, private builders and developers to investigate innovative design solutions for a new generation of high-quality and low-energy affordable homes.

“A lack of affordable housing affects all of us in some way either directly or indirectly. Our report demonstrates that addressing the housing crisis in the UK would improve the lives of everyone.”

The results of the report coincide with the launch of the Social and Affordable Housing Initiative, a coalition co-led by UCL to establish impactful strategies to address Britain’s housing crisis. The coalition brings together experts across multiple sectors, including architects, engineers, public health specialists, charities, as well as the public and private sector.

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