Heriot-Watt homelessness report judged best housing research of 2023

Heriot-Watt homelessness report judged best housing research of 2023

An influential report that casts light on the alarming rise of homelessness in England has been crowned the best housing research of 2023.

Led by a team of academics from Heriot-Watt University, the Homelessness Monitor: England 2023, has been singled out by the housing research website, Thinkhouse, which reviewed over 100 reports submitted last year. Its editorial panel judged the 138-page report to offer the greatest insights into homelessness and destitution, and in influencing policymakers, finishing ahead of the likes of the Institute of Fiscal Studies and the University of Glasgow.

Dr Beth Watts-Cobbe, overall project lead on the Homelessness Monitor series, said: “Without access to affordable private rented homes or social housing, we are only going to see more households forced into homelessness.”

Produced for the homelessness charity Crisis by researchers from I-SPHERE (Institute for Social Policy, Housing and Equalities Research) at Heriot-Watt University, the Homelessness Monitor 2023 found nearly a quarter of a million households (242,000) had experienced the worst (‘core’) forms of homelessness in 2022.

This includes sleeping on the streets, spending night after night on sofas or being stuck in unsuitable temporary accommodation such as nightly paid B&Bs.

Professor Suzanne Fitzpatrick, director of I-SPHERE in the School of Energy, Geoscience, Infrastructure and Society, said: “This recognition reflects not only on the hard work and commitment demonstrated by the team at I-SPHERE but also the urgent need to prioritise solutions to create a more inclusive and compassionate society.

“At this University we take great care in our research endeavours with a view to not only finding new insights but in delivering meaningful change to the benefit of society. Recognition, such as from the Thinkhouse editorial panel, reaffirms this commitment and act as a catalyst for sustained efforts in the pursuit of a home for every individual, ensuring that research continues to be a powerful force for positive change.”

Funded by Crisis, The Homelessness Monitor analyses the homelessness impacts of economic developments and public policy across each of the four countries of the UK. Its origins can be traced back to 2011 when the first English Homelessness Monitor was carried out before being expanded to the rest of the UK in the following years.

Homelessness policy has diverged significantly across the UK since devolution in 1999 and is a contributing factor in explaining these differences. The Monitor looks at trends in homelessness and considers the impact of policy and practice.

Dr Beth Watts-Cobbe commented: “Based on our key findings, the Monitor identified a number of short and long-term policy priorities for England if we are to stand any chance of reversing this worrying upward trend in homelessness. These include allocating a significant proportion of social lettings to core homeless households, increasing the LHA (Local Housing Allowance) social security rates, maximising prevention activity to the level of the higher-performing local authorities, and increasing housing supply.

“Without access to affordable private rented homes or social housing, we are only going to see more households forced into homelessness.”

The Thinkhouse editorial panel consists of 20 members drawn from a cross-section of the housing world, spanning academia and research to not-for-profit and business sectors.

Each panel member assessed the quality of the research, including its scope, as well as considered whether the recommendations reached could be easily translated into meaningful policy or influence decision-makers.

I-SPHERE’s Homelessness Monitor for England previously won the same accolade from Thinkhouse in 2021 and finished second in 2022.

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