This project aims to find out what information would help local authorities provide better support to families at risk of housing insecurity. We will specifically look at experiences and drivers of housing insecurity and current local authority strategies.
In the UK today, many children live in insecure housing – they have either experienced or are at risk of multiple house moves that are not through choice and related to poverty. Insecure housing and poverty can affect access to employment, education and services and have a direct impact on children’s health and life chances. The fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic and the current cost of living crisis means that housing insecurity is set to worsen, and it is unsurprising that key organisations including the Joseph Rowntree Foundation and the Child Poverty Action Group have identified housing insecurity as a major public health issue.
Identifying families at risk of housing insecurity and providing appropriate support is one way local councils can help families in greatest need. Research has shown that policies which reduce housing insecurity for young children can help to improve their emotional health and successful strategies can potentially reduce negative outcomes for children for example, emotional and behavioural problems, lower academic attainment and poor adult health and wellbeing.
Currently, there is limited research into how parents and children experience housing insecurity, and how it impacts their health and wellbeing and other aspects of their lives (e.g., education, play). There is also very little research exploring people’s experiences of how local authorities try to reduce housing insecurity.
Developing a detailed picture of current experiences, the factors that drive housing insecurity and local authority strategies, and approaches to reducing housing insecurity for families with children will be key in trying to tackle the issue.
In this project, we will work with children, parents/carers, and professionals in local councils across three regions of England (North West, South Yorkshire and London) to find out what information would help local authorities provide better support to families at risk of housing insecurity.
Design and methods
Local data will be used to build a picture of housing insecurity for each area. Factors such as housing spending, percentage of families living in social housing or the private rented sector, and receipt of housing and other benefits will be examined. In addition, we will interview professionals. children, young people and parents/carers to gain insight into their experiences.
We will map the data and help the local councils to identify ways to improve the housing security data collected to make it relevant to them. We will look at ways to link this data to individual homes and routine data for people in these homes, such as any GP recorded mental health issues and education results. With the interview data, these indicators will be used to suggest the changes that will benefit people who are vulnerable to becoming homeless.
As the project progresses, we will seek to engage with at least three children/young people and adults as ‘critical friends’. We will seek their input throughout the project on more detailed aspects of the work such as interviewing different aged children and initial thoughts on the interviews.
The critical friends on the project will help create a lay summary of key findings and input into the design of a creative, accessible and engaging output. In addition to academic publications, potential dissemination materials may include a documentary film or animation. We will seek to identify public facing events where we can share our work and use the SPHR website and social media channels to amplify our findings.