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Assessing the Social Return on Investment of Highway House

Assessing the Social Return on Investment of Highway House

Assessing the Social Return on Investment of Highway House, a Homeless Shelter in Haringey, London

Start Date:  June 2015   End Date:  Nov 2015   Status: Completed


Homelessness is not just a pertinent issue in terms of its ethical and social implications, but has also a financial cost for both society and the State. Tackling homelessness would therefore be beneficial for people concerned but also in terms of long term savings for the public sector including for instance the National Health Service (NHS), the Home Office, Department for Work and Pension (DWP), and Department for Communities and Local Government, among others.

Depending on the source (NEF, 2008; MEAM, 2009), cost per annum for individual homelessness ranges from £24K to £26K per year. Yet, the number of homeless individuals in the UK continues to rise and, as a direct result of cuts in public expenditure and economic recession, is likely to rise even further in the future.


The aim of this project was to develop evidence and evaluation tools to assess the social value of homeless projects like Highway House (HH), as their cost saving to the public purse could be considerable and might lead to net cost savings for local authorities which, in adult and social care, face one of the biggest areas of expenditure.     


The methodology used to assess the social value of HH is called Social Return on Investment (SROI). The SROI approach was used to calculate the financial benefits to society of HH over a period of five years and is usually expressed in financial terms. This approach was underpinned by the use of primary and secondary data. We combined these data with published information about full economic costs of a wide range of activities and professions to provide the final assessment of SROI for HH.

Primary data were collected from 30 HH clients between November 2014 and February 2015. HH clients were asked questions about their experience of the intervention, service use both within and outside HH, and demographic profile. Secondary data were also collected including: (i) attendance rates of all people staying at HH each night for 10 months (Jan-Oct 2013); (ii) the demographic profile of each client from admission forms, and (iii) number and type of referrals from referral letters for 2013/14.

Main Findings:


Dr Bertotti from IHHD presented the result of the Social Return on Investment (SROI) study (below left) at a London event on homelessness which was chaired by the deputy mayor of London Joanne McCartney (below right).


Presentation can be downloaded here.

This resulted in an article on The Guardian citing the results of the research:

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Project Lead:

Dr Marcello Bertotti, Senior Research Fellow

Project Team: Ruby Farr, Adedamola Akinbode

We gratefully acknowledge the voluntary work of a number of UEL students who helped with various aspects of this research. They include Patricia Kangogyere, Loreta Martinaityte, Sarah Olatunji, Eromosele David Eselebor, Joseph Onokwai, Josephine Bardi and Moses Morgan. We also acknowledge the kind help of a grant from the University of East London and the crucial contribution of Highway House clients.
Funder: University of East London, Health Sport and Bioscience small grant for Research and Knowledge Exchange Activity
Project Partners: Highway House, homeless support organisation

Report: Highway House SROI Report

For more information, contact:  Dr Marcello Bertotti, Senior Research Fellow; Telephone: 020 8223 4139