Single people without dependants are one of the most vulnerable groups in terms of housing rights, as policy tends to regard them as less in need than other groups. Therefore it is vital to consider how single people have been affected by the recent cuts to housing welfare. This project focuses upon one specific policy that solely affects single people: the changed age threshold for the shared accommodation rate of Local Housing Allowance, where in 2012 the the shared accommodation rate age limit was increased from 25 to 35.
The research will investigate if these changes have had detrimental effects on certain groups (women, LGBT people, people from black & minority ethnic communities, people with disabilities, and parents with non-residential children) . The project will examine the experiences of groups as separate entities, while also examining the experiences of those who are multiply marginalised. The research has four key objectives:
- To assess whether these changes to the Shared Accommodation Rate could be seen to undermine or contradict the 2010 Equality Act. Could equalities law be used to make a legal challenge in order to make certain protected groups exempt from these changes?
- To examine whether changes to the Shared Accommodation Rate have led to a lack of safe & secure housing options.
- To assess whether people are able or willing to seek support or legal advice around changes to their housing benefit.
- To explore what steps can be taken to support people who are struggling to find affordable and safe accommodation.
The first stage of the research involves a survey of people who have been affected by these changes. The survey will provide a large-scale dataset that will enable us to identify the broader impacts of these changes. The second stage of the research involves in-depth interviews with a smaller sample of 50 people. The interviews will ask participants to talk about their housing histories, and to discuss what impact these changes in housing benefit have had upon their everyday lives.