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

Iain Hardie*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

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.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1032-1045
Number of pages14
JournalSocial Policy and Administration
Issue number7
Early online date2 May 2023
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2023

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • universal credit
  • social security
  • welfare reform
  • housing insecurity
  • homelessness


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