Links between housing and poverty highlighted

Policy-makers need to pay closer attention to links between housing and poverty, according to a new study from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation that looks at how housing can mitigate or exacerbate the impact of poverty on people’s lives.

Key points

  • Poverty induced by housing costs has been increasing over the last two decades. But good-quality, low-cost housing has, at least partly, broken the link between poor housing conditions and poverty in the UK.
  • An extra 3.1 million people are in poverty after their housing costs have been paid. One million of these are in London, reflecting its high housing costs.
  • Low rents are important in reducing poverty. The private rented sector is playing an increasingly important role, with 18 per cent of private tenants in poverty before housing costs are taken into account, and 38 per cent in poverty after housing costs are paid.
  • In the social housing sector, 29 per cent of social renters are living in poverty before housing costs. Despite sub-market social rents, 43 per cent are living in poverty after housing costs have been paid.
  • For over 20 years, home-owners have made up more than half of people living in poverty (before housing costs). Although they receive only 2 per cent of all state support for housing costs, home-owners are less likely to be living without essential items than tenants on the same income.
  • The authors conclude that policy needs to pay closer attention to links between housing and poverty. Efforts to reduce poverty need to consider limiting rent costs, maintaining good housing conditions in all tenures and monitoring the impact of cuts to benefits and tax credits.

Source: Rebecca Tunstall, Mark Bevan, Jonathan Bradshaw, Karen Croucher, Stephen Duffy, Caroline Hunter, Anwen Jones, Julie Rugg, Alison Wallace and Steve Wilcox, The Links between Housing and Poverty: An Evidence Review, Joseph Rowntree Foundation
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