The impact of Universal Credit rollout on homelessness assistance need in Scottish local authorities

Hardie, I. (2023) The impact of Universal Credit rollout on homelessness assistance need in Scottish local authorities. Social Policy and Administration, (doi: 10.1111/spol.12918) (Early Online Publication)

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Since 2013, the Universal Credit (UC) welfare reform has been rolling out gradually to overhaul the means-tested social security system for working-age people in low-income households in the United Kingdom. Existing research suggests that UC has had a detrimental impact on the housing security of claimants, with evidence of increases in rent arrears and landlord repossession actions as the reform has been rolled out. However, there is currently a lack of evidence on the impact of UC rollout on the most extreme form of housing insecurity—homelessness. This article addresses this gap in knowledge, using Scottish local authority level data obtained from the Scottish Government on monthly rates of Housing Options approaches and statutory homelessness claims, which is linked to data on the timing of UC rollout within local authorities. The staggered nature of UC rollout (i.e., the fact that it rolled out in different local authorities at different times) is exploited in order to measure its impact within 29 Scottish local authorities using fixed effects regression modelling. The results suggest that UC ‘Full Service’ rollout, up to March 2019, was associated with increases in Housing Options approach rates, but there was not clear evidence of an increase in rates of working-age statutory homelessness claims. Redesigning UC to increase its standard allowance and address its long wait periods and harsh sanctions would likely help to protect the housing security of claimants.

Item Type:Articles
Status:Early Online Publication
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Hardie, Dr Iain
Authors: Hardie, I.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > School of Health & Wellbeing > MRC/CSO SPHSU
Journal Name:Social Policy and Administration
ISSN (Online):1467-9515
Published Online:02 May 2023
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2023 The Author
First Published:First published in Social Policy and Administration 2023
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons License

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Project CodeAward NoProject NamePrincipal InvestigatorFunder's NameFunder RefLead Dept
303166Scottish Graduate School Science Doctoral Training Partnership (DTP)Mary Beth KneafseyEconomic and Social Research Council (ESRC)ES/P000681/1SS - Academic & Student Administration