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Hestia provides support to people across London in times of crisis, including young care leavers, older people, and the survivors of domestic violence and modern slavery. The charity has facilitated UK SAYS NO MORE, a national campaign focused on raising awareness and prevention of domestic violence, delivered in partnership with 330 individuals and organisations across the UK. Following the launch of the Government’s draft Domestic Abuse (DA) Bill in January 2019 Hestia and UK SAYS NO MORE worked to compile a report on the impact of exposure to domestic violence in childhood. The charity approached Pro Bono Economics to carry out analysis on the economic costs of early exposure to domestic violence. This considering the draft DA Bill did not include specific measures to protect children in households where domestic abuse takes place.


Economic Associate Jon Franklin worked to assess the impacts that have been best evidenced and quantified within existing literature here, focusing on those covering exposure to domestic violence and their relationship with the prevalence of behaviours such as conduct and hyperactivity deficit disorders. The analysis then sought to estimate the associated additional cost of public service usage by such children, considering existing unit cost estimates.


Pro Bono Economics’ analysis shows that a failure to support children exposed to domestic violence in the UK could cost taxpayers between £480 million and £1.4 billion. Broken down, educational costs here total £790 million, foster and residential costs up to £460 million, crime costs of up to £110 million, and health and social care costs of up to £70 million. With around 500,000 children in the UK having been exposed to domestic violence, and a failure to support these children resulting in an increase of around 35,000 to 100,000 with a conduct or hyperactivity disorder, these costs equate to between £1,000 and £2,900 per child.


The “On the Sidelines” report was launched in parliament on the 5th of March 2019, with speakers including the Victims Commissioner Baroness Newlove and Parliamentary Under Secretary of State Edward Argar MP. The report’s findings were featured by many media outlets, including BBC News, the Today Programme and Today in Parliament. In 2019 it was announced that following this report, the school admissions code will be altered to enable easier access to schools for children fleeing domestic abuse.

Lyndsey Dearlove, Head of UK SAYS NO MORE at Hestia, stated:

“For too long children have been overlooked in the response to domestic abuse, seen merely as “witnesses” rather than children who have experienced deep trauma and crisis. This must change. We need measures put in place to support children early on and break the cycle of abuse.”

Lord Gus O’Donnell, Chair of Trustees at Pro Bono Economics, stated:

“While these numbers are striking, and this report timely, there is always a need for more robust evidence with which we can enhance our understanding of such issues, from causes through to effects and solutions. Armed with such information we can better address these concerning social trends.”