How does housing affect work incentives for people in poverty?

Kenneth Gibb, Mark Stephens, Darja Reuschke, Sharon Wright, Kirsten Besemer and Filip Sosenko
22nd Feb 2016

This research explores how housing impacts on work incentives, and opportunities to progress in work, for those in and around poverty.

It highlights a well-entrenched work ethic among people who are likely to command only modest wages, and the multiple disincentives they face arising from the cost of housing, transport and childcare.

The report shows that:

  • investing in neighbourhoods can reinforce positive social networks and provide a secure basis for employment;
  • affordable transport is a critical constraint on employment: there is a clear need to review public transport routes and subsidise individual commuting costs;
  • more secure tenancies would improve people’s willingness to move, and lower rents would provide a much clearer financial incentive to work; this is a restatement of the case for social rented housing as a springboard to employment; and
  • childcare availability and affordability is a key barrier to employment – the government’s decision to extend free childcare is welcome, but can more be done?
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