September 19, 2020

Personalised employment support essential to stem homelessness as furlough ends

Centre for Homelessness Impact

Local government could reduce the number of people becoming homeless by assigning individual support workers for those at risk, using a system that has proved successful in the US and Europe. Research shows that people taking part in this type of programme are twice as likely to maintain employment. 

In a paper published today, the Centre for Homelessness Impact (CHI), an independent organisation that supports the use of data and evidence and runs pilot schemes with local authorities to end homelessness, calls for the creation of “Homelessness Employment Pathways.” These services, provided by individual support workers, offer tailored employment advice to anyone receiving statutory homelessness support who wants help to gain and keep employment.

Estimates suggest that around 280,000 people in the UK are homeless, with that number set to increase as a direct impact of the coronavirus pandemic. According to research from the CHI, individual placement support would offer more stability and financial security and reduce the risk of long term homelessness, or the recurrence of homelessness. Individual placement support offers a full, wraparound service, taking into account issues such as health requirements and helping with welfare benefits, the preferred type of work and, crucially, follow-on support for all participants.

Author of the paper, Employment and homelessness in the context of the new economy following Covid-19, Tim Gray said: “Currently, most people experiencing homelessness are not in employment.  But 28% of people are employed when they lose their home, and research shows that most of those experiencing homelessness, who are unemployed, do want to work. Their experiences greatly vary, ranging those who are recently unemployed, to those who may rarely or never have worked. Discrimination, having no fixed abode and even a simple a lack of confidence or experience could all be contributing factors to the high level of unemployment among those experiencing homelessness.”

To get more people experiencing homelessness into work, the Centre recommends:

  • Homelessness Employment Pathways to be incorporated into statutory homelessness guidance.  
  • Specific help for anyone who has lost their home as a result of Covid-19 related unemployment to enable them to return to work as quickly as possible.
  • Specialist programmes for those with the greatest barriers to employment, such as people who have been street homeless for long periods.
  • Rigorous evaluation to test the programme in different context and scale as appropriate

Dr Ligia Teixeira, founding CEO of the Centre for Homelessness Impact said: “An evidence-based approach to individual placement support could have a profoundly positive impact on someone’s ability to gain and maintain employment. By incorporating employment support into their homelessness services, local authorities stand to significantly improve outcomes for people at risk of, or experiencing, homelessness in their borough, as well as saving the local authority money in the longer term.”

The policy paper is available to read here.

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