Living standards and benefits for young adults making the transition out of homelessness in the West Midlands

This research, commissioned by St Basils Youth Homelessness Prevention Charity and funded by the West Midlands Combined Authority, aims to examine the impact of the social security system for under 25s on young adults’ living standards and transitions into employment and independent living.

Access to benefits can be crucial for young people living in supported housing unable to fall back on parental housing and family support. However, without housing costs, the benefit rate for under 25s accounts for less than a third of the Minimum Income Standard required to participate in society.

As young adults living in supported accommodation face the prospect of paying housing costs and household bills upon moving into independent housing, they can also encounter challenges around entry into work, job quality, sustainability and pay levels. These can create significant barriers to their housing trajectories. Furthermore, social rented housing is not always easy to access or readily available, and private rental accommodation often brings high costs. Ensuring the social security system acts as a support for these young adults is critical to their ability to make this transition as sustainably as possible.

This research will look at the impact of low incomes on 18 – 25-year olds’ everyday lives and ability to make ends meet, particularly given implications of the social security system for young people in supported housing and the lower benefit rates for under 25s, and will look in depth at what this means for young adults’ living standards. It aims to understand the challenges young adults face accessing secure jobs and earnings, and moving into independent housing, to increase awareness and inform policymakers and others about what could help young people going forward.

The study will comprise of interviews with 21 young adults (age 18 – 25) who are or have been living in supported housing, as well as those who have moved on to live independently. The research will use a photo elicitation method whereby participants will be invited to take photographs using the following brief:

  1. Areas of your life you feel are most impacted by your income levels
  2. Things that have helped or made it more difficult to move into work or plans to move into work
  3. Things that have helped or made it more difficult to move on to independent living or plans to move towards independent living

The photographs will be used as discursive prompts to explore young adults’ views and experiences of making ends meet, to understand how the social security system supports young adults trying to find work and move into independent housing.