The Office for National Statistics (ONS) has announced a new set of metrics to provide a better understanding of homelessness in the UK.
Working with the charity Centre for Homelessness Impact, the ONS hope that the SHARE framework will account for the diverse and long-term causes of homelessness, as well as providing measures of success.
The report, which sets out the SHARE framework, states that: ‘If [homelessness] numbers go up there’s indignation, if they go down there’s celebration. Historically, periods of low numbers have not been long-lasting, and in time the numbers rise again… For lasting impact, we need to break this cycle. We need to reframe how we look at success.’
The new set of indicators attempt to view homelessness holistically. They range from education and housing to civic engagement and social relationships. Previously, reports have focused on the number of people without a home at a fixed point in time, but this is inadequate given the complexity of the issue. According to the CEO of the Centre for Homelessness Impact, Dr Ligia Teixeira, people tend to move in and out of homelessness and the current approach doesn’t capture this constant change.
She added: “We must tackle the root causes of homelessness like poverty, poor housing stock, and relationship breakdown in order to reduce homelessness sustainably.”
Dr Teixeira acknowledges that better use of data won’t end homelessness, but she argues that it is crucial to provide policymakers and the public with the appropriate knowledge to design solutions.
Homelessness has significantly increased over the past decade. In 2017, there were 4,751 rough sleepers in England, whilst in 2010 there were 1,768. The report states that those affected by homelessness are ten times more likely to die than those of a similar age in the general population.