The impact of Universal Credit rollout on housing security: An analysis of landlord repossession rates in English local authorities

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Housing allowances within the UK’s welfare system help protect low-income households from eviction. Universal Credit (UC) has faced criticism for threatening this with its long wait periods, increased conditionality and monthly direct payments. However, there is currently a lack of robust, national-level quantitative analysis on UC’s housing security impacts. This article addresses this, exploiting cross-area variation in the timing of UC rollout to assess its impact on landlord repossession rates within 323 English local authorities. A fixed-effects panel design was used, linking data from UC’s rollout schedule with Ministry of Justice data on legal repossession actions from 2012 Q1 - 2019 Q1. Results suggest that UC ‘Full Service’ rollout, on average, led to an increase of 1.74 landlord repossession claims, 1.42 landlord repossession orders and 0.70 landlord repossession warrants within local authorities (per 10,000 rented dwellings). This corresponds to a 4–5 percent increase on pre-rollout rates. UC’s impact tended to increase the longer it had been rolled out. Where ‘Full Service’ had been rolled out for 12+ months, it led to an increase of 2.60 landlord repossession claims, 2.89 landlord repossession orders and 1.09 landlord repossession warrants (per 10,000 rented dwellings), corresponding to a 6–10 percent increase on pre-rollout rates.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)225-246
JournalJournal of Social Policy
Volume50
Issue number2
Early online date27 Feb 2020
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2021

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • Universal Credit
  • welfare reform
  • housing security
  • landlord repossession
  • fixed-effects regression
  • panel data analysis

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