Housing policy in recent years has become a contentious subject, which has given rise to the bedroom tax and increased age for single youth’s local housing allowance (LHA) cap (i.e. the single room rate) (Jones, 2012). Now, single persons under 35 years of age will not be eligible for a one bedroom room rate (i.e. a one bedroom/studio flat), which has been raised from 25 years. This means that the young single person on a low income has to either stay at home or move into shared accommodation.
Shared accommodation may not be the ideal situation for youth who has a low income, especially if he/she is unemployed due to mental health, drug and/or alcohol abuse. Consequently, young persons will seek ways to gain reasonable accommodation, which may include living as a couple on benefits and/or having a baby.
Thus, on this basis, it is arguable that housing policy does not encourage pregnancy, because a couple can move into a property and potentially gain appropriate benefit to cover the cost of a property (as long as within the LHA).
BACKGROUND AND RATIONALE FOR THE STUDY:
The problem becomes more complex when the structure for affordable housing and the benefits system is examined (Berrington & Stone, 2013; Quiglers et al, 2008; Homelessness Watch 2012). This is because youths are faced with is that there is a shortage of affordable properties (Daly, 2013), which makes priority need under the UK’s Homelessness Legislation important. The Homeless Legislation contained under Part VI and VII of the Housing Act 1996 (HA 1996) identifies when an individual is priority need, which includes vulnerable groups. A couple will not be a vulnerable group, but a pregnant woman or woman with a young baby will be (Lewis, 2006). Thus, to get an affordable property then having a baby will increase the family’s chances, because the Homeless Legislation will come into play (Harden et al, 2006).
Another, benefit of having a baby is that under the benefits system, a lone parent with a child under 5-year of age will be eligible for Income Support (i.e. there is no obligation to find work). Thus, to receive an affordable home, guaranteed income without seeking work and rent covered by Housing Benefit is to have an under 5-year child (One Parent Families Scotland, 2012; Elson, 2012). After the child reaches 5-years old then the benefit moves to Job Seekers Allowance, which highlights the system creates an underlying support for young women to have babies. This is an example of the marginalisation of young persons at play in benefits provision and housing policy (Vickery, 2013). Therefore, when the underlying system is examined there is a sound argument that the benefits system and housing policy are promoting young women to get pregnant and be a lone parent.
AIM OF STUDY:
The proposed research will examine if the current benefit system and housing policy are forcing under 35 year old women to get pregnant.
OBJECTIVE OF STUDY:
The objectives of the study are:
To examine the current housing policy in respect to under 35-year olds, which includes homelessness legislation;
To examine the benefits systems for under 35-years olds, which will include single claimants, couples and lone parents;
To investigate the current housing policy, in respect to the shortage and building of more affordable homes; and
To investigate the attitudes through existing studies of under 35-year olds to the current benefits and housing policy.
LITERATURE SEARCH STRATEGY:
The literature review will use both legal and academic databases. These databases will include Westlaw (if available), EBSCOHOST, Social Science Research Network, Heinonline and academic studies on Google Scholar. I will also access the sources available at the Joseph Rowntree Foundation and the media for attitudes of youths, stakeholders and politicians
The keywords will include: Local Housing Allowance, Under 35-year olds, Housing Benefit, Lone Parents, Pregnancy, Homelessness, Affordable Housing, Benefits, Welfare, Priority Need.
The literature will be focused upon housing policy for the under 35-year olds. This will then be narrowed to lone parents. Although, mental illness and care-leavers are important the scope of this research will not allow such an extensive examination.
ETHICS and ANTI-OPPRESSIVE PRACTICE:
To avoid the ethical dilemmas around primary research, the proposed study will use pre-existing studies on this issue. The Joseph Rowntree Foundation will be an important source.
The media can be highly biased on this issue; as such, there will be an objective examination of these reports to show the oppressive attitudes to lone parents under 35-years olds. This will ensure that a fair examination of the subject matter, in order to dispel the myths of the media hype on this subject.
- Berrington, A & Stone, J. (2013). Outlining a future research agenda for studies of young adults’ transitions to residential independence. Centre for Population Change Working Paper Number 38
- Daly, G (2013). Homeless: Policies, Strategies and Lives on the Streets. Routledge
- Elson, D. (2012). The Reduction of the UK Budget Deficit: a human rights perspective. International Review of Applied Economics Vol 26, Iss 2, 177-190
- Harden A, Brunton G, Fletcher A, Oakley A, Burchett H, Backhans M (2006). Young people, pregnancy and social exclusion: A systematic synthesis of research evidence to identify effective, appropriate and promising approaches for prevention and support. EPPI-Centre, Social Science Research Unit, Institute of Education, University of London.
- Jones, N. (2012). Cameron’s Housing Benefit Proposals are part of the ongoing redefinition of adulthood. The New Statesman June 25, 2012. Retrieved from: http://www.newstatesman.com/blogs/politics/2012/06/camerons-housing-benefit-proposals-are-part-ongoing-redefinition-adulthood accessed October 16, 2013