Public favour paying more attention to homelessness, and using evidence to do so

Ipsos MORI was commissioned by the Centre for Homelessness Impact to undertake survey research to build an evidence base of public understanding and attitudes towards homelessness, while also investigating perceptions of the role of evidence in addressing the issue.

The author(s)

  • Ben Marshall Public Affairs
  • Holly Day Public Affairs
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The Centre also wanted to explore, through simple experimentation, the contribution evidence might make to positive framing, to narratives centred on making ending homelessness a shared priority, and to efforts to champion evidence-led change such as the Centre’s End it with evidence campaign.

The survey involved a representative sample of 2,180 UK adults aged 16-75 sourced from Ipsos MORI’s online panel. Booster sampling increased the number of surveys completed in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland in order to improve our ability to make comparisons. Data was weighted to the known population profile at the UK level.

The survey’s key findings, described in detail in our report for the Centre, include:

  • Homelessness is perceived as a serious problem and people believe it will get worse
  • Homelessness is a personal issue for some (across the UK, a quarter, 26%, say they have ever experienced homelessness either personally or through family and friends), and it is a social issue for many more
  • There are important misperceptions and knowledge gaps – e.g. people expect 51% of those currently experiencing homelessness to be living with alcohol or drug dependency when figures are considerably lower even for those who are experiencing street homelessness, the most visible type of homelessness.
  • Reflecting their concern, the public are instinctively supportive of a range of policies designed to address homelessness
  • People recognise that evidence has a role to play in decision-making…
  • …and our experiments suggest that it can contribute to framing too

Ipsos MORI’s report concluded that messages relating to evidence of what works, and the use of more positive language, can have a positive influence when engaging the public about homelessness. Even if they are insufficient on their own to change the external culture around the issues, they can make an important and helpful contribution.

The author(s)

  • Ben Marshall Public Affairs
  • Holly Day Public Affairs

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