Homeless people have strong motivation to work
Homeless people are strongly motivated to work despite challenges to sustaining employment including being financially worse off than when on benefits, a report has found.
The study from London-based homelessness charity Broadway out today shows that some homeless people who work are receiving benefits they are entitled to but this does not cover the costs of working.
The report says: ‘Being worse off in work or unsure of how much they would receive in benefits had various consequences for a number of people, including: worsened mental health and increased anxiety; the accrual of personal debt; problems in the workplace because of associated time off; and, in one case, evcitions from accommodation and the loss of work.’
It adds: ‘Fear of facing difficulties such as these can act as a disincentive to work.’
People living in homelessness accommodation also faced problems including harassment, financial exploitation and anti-social behaviour because they were in work, the research found. This included people living in hostels being asked by other residents to borrow money or items.
Homeless people come across barriers to finding permanent employment, mainly because of lack of experience, gaps in CVs and a competitive labour market, Broadway also discovered.
Although the report also says: ‘Participants were strongly motivated to work. They wanted to make a useful contribution to society, do something meaningful with their time, move off benefits and support themselves. Many people’s strong motivations to work helped them to maintain work despite facing challenges.’
It also points out that data from project steering group members showed only between 2 per cent and 14 per cent of people living in homelessness hostels and supported housing worked in 2012.
Broadway monitored the experiences of 50 currently or recently homeless people moving into work over the first six to 12 months after starting a job between January 2012 and April 2013 for the research.
The report recommendations include that the Department for Work and Pensions ensures homeless people are not encouraged to take jobs they cannot afford to be in, because of expenses such as travel and clothing. It also suggests Jobcentre Plus advisors are trained so they can accurately give people information about how much money they will receive in benefits when in work before starting a job.
It also says the supply of affordable housing in the social and private rented sectors should be increased to improve the access for single homeless people, and families, to bring the rents down so working homeless people have access to appropriate and affordable accommodation.