Homes pressure fears due to coronavirus impact on women and lone parents

Dr Emiliya Lazarova. Pic: UEA/Andi Sapey

Dr Emiliya Lazarova. Pic: UEA/Andi Sapey - Credit: AndiSapey

Women and single parents are likely to be most negatively impacted by COVID-19 and the pressures it is putting on social housing, according to University of East Anglia researchers.

Pierre Bruton. Pic: UEA

Pierre Bruton. Pic: UEA - Credit: UEA

Evidence from Norfolk was used in the research and showed Great Yarmouth was likely to be an area where women and single parents could be particularly hard hit.

Dr Emiliya Lazarova, associate professor in economics, and Pierre Bruton, a third year undergraduate student in UEA’s School of Economics, drew on data collected over three years on the stock of social housing, as well as the waiting times for housing.

They combined that with regional employment data and industry evidence.

They found local authorities with a high proportion of single parents and people working in industries struggling as a result of COVID-19 will be the most strongly impacted, with a large rise in demand for social housing.

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Women make up the majority of those in social housing and evidence suggests the pandemic has hit them harder in the job market – particularly those on low incomes.

In Norfolk, Great Yarmouth has a much higher percentage (16pc) of children in low-income families living with a lone parent compared to somewhere such as Broadland (3pc).

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With many single parents working in struggling industries in Yarmouth - with nearly 20pc in public administration, education or health - social housing demand may increase disproportionately relative to the available supply, leaving many vulnerable, they say.

And lone parents are likely to lower working hours with children being at home since the lockdown.

The UEA researchers say a reduction in the household’s only income means a surge in demand for social housing seems inevitable.

They say councils will have to target those in need to get them appropriate housing and cut waiting times.

Dr Lazarova said: “The pandemic has had a big impact on female-dominated industries and with children at home requiring attention, women and lone parents have been faced with the greatest struggles.

“As schools reopen in September, there is urgent need for social housing. However, the rise in demand could vary across different local authorities.”

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