Prof Suzanne Fitzpatrick

You’ve probably heard charities and politicians say things like 'homelessness can happen to any of us' or 'we’re all three pay cheques away from homelessness’.

But is this actually true?

Here at Heriot-Watt we’ve used data collected from households across the UK to test these claims and found wildly differing risks of homelessness related largely to factors beyond people's control.

For some low-income households living in areas of high housing costs, the chances of experiencing homelessness are so high that it comes close to being a 'norm'.

For more affluent groups, the chances of becoming homeless are slight in the extreme, because they are cushioned by many social and economic protective factors.

So, if you’re middle class with family support, homelessness probably won't happen to you.

But housing shortages and cuts in welfare mean that it is happening to an increasing number of your fellow citizens. And it's miserable, unfair, and preventable in the world's sixth biggest economy.