Wednesday, October 29, 2008

How much does domestic abuse cost?

Sylvia Walby (University of Leeds) in September 2004 did some research for the Home Office, the research was to estimate what the economic cost was to have domestic abuse as part of our society and the amounts are staggering. (Because it was the home office I think the figures may just be for England and Wales, which makes the figures even more staggering).

Key findings The total cost of domestic violence to services (Criminal Justice System, health, social services, housing, civil legal) amounts to £3.1 billion, while the loss to the economy is £2.7 billion. This amounts to over £5.7 billion a year. The costs can be broken down as follows:

Criminal Justice System: The cost of domestic violence to the criminal justice system(CJS) is around £1 billion a year. This is nearly one-quarter of the CJS budget for violent crime. The largest single component is that of the police. Other components include: prosecution, courts, probation, prison, and legal aid.

Health Care: The cost to the NHS for physical injuries is around £1.2 billion a year. This includes GPs and hospitals. Physical injuries account for most of the NHS costs, but there is an important element of mental health care, estimated at an additional £176 million.

Social Services: The annual cost is nearly a £0.25 billion. This is overwhelmingly for children rather than for adults, especially those caught up in the co-occurrence of domestic violence and child abuse.

Housing: Expenditure on emergency housing includes costs to Local Housing Authorities and Housing Associations for housing those homeless because of domestic violence;housing benefit for such emergency housing; and, importantly, refuges. This amounts to £0.16 billion a year.

Civil Legal: Civil legal services cost over £0.3 billion, about half of which is borne by legal aid and half by the individual. This includes both specialist legal actions such as injunctions to restrain or expel a violent partner, as well as actions consequent on the disentangling of marriages and relationships such as divorce and child custody.

Economic Output: Lost economic output accounts for around £2.7 billion a year. This is the cost of time off work due to injuries. It is estimated that around half of the costs of such sickness absences is borne by the employer and half by the individual in lost wages.An additional element is the human and emotional cost. Domestic violence leads to pain and suffering that is not counted in the cost of services. This amounts to over £17 billion a year.

Including all costs, the total cost of domestic violence for the state,employers and victims is estimated at around £23 billion.

Of course there are quite a lot of people in employment around domestic abuse in the state and third sector which will have other economic benefits (myself included in this as a Domestic Abuse Co-ordinator) so there will be some negations however the economic costs indicate the pervasive nature of domestic abuse.

If you want to read the whole report you can read it here