Young Adults’ Transitions to Residential Independence in the UK: The Role of Social and Housing Policy

Part of the Work and Welfare in Europe book series (RECOWE)


This chapter examines UK young adults’ housing transitions, particularly leaving the parental home, and explores the ways in which these may have been shaped by government social and housing policies. Housing remains an important welfare service in the UK, but is distinctive in the coexistence of a large and enduring private housing market (Malpass, 2004). Housing has arguably moved further away from the core welfare state as a result of the mass privatisation of council housing which began in the early 1980s and a lack of sufficient new social housing (Forrest and Murie, 1983; Malpass, 2004). Access to social housing is increasingly difficult for young, particularly single, adults (Anderson, 1999), who increasingly look to the private rented sector (PRS) for accommodation during the early phases of the life-course. The role of the welfare state has thus shifted from the provision of council housing to the subsidisation of private rents via welfare benefits (Murie, 2012).


Living Arrangement Social Housing Housing Policy Parental Home Labour Force Survey 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Anderson, I. (1999). ‘Young Single People and Access to Social Housing’, in Rugg, J. (ed.) Young People, Housing and Social Policy (London: Routledge), pp. 25–49.Google Scholar
  2. Beer, A. and Faulkner, D. (2011). Housing Transitions through the Life Course: Aspirations, Needs and Policy (Bristol: The Policy Press).Google Scholar
  3. Berrington, A. and Murphy, M. (1994). ‘Changes in the Living Arrangements of Young-Adults in Britain During the 1980s’. European Sociological Review 10 (3), 235–57.Google Scholar
  4. Berrington, A., Stone, J. and Falkingham, J. (2009). ‘The Changing Living Arrangements of Young Adults in the UK’. Population Trends 138, 27–37.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Boliver, V. (2011). ‘Expansion, Differentiation, and the Persistence of Social Class Inequalities in British Higher Education’. Higher Education 61 (3), 229–42.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Bynner, J., Elias, P., McKnight, A., Pan, H. and Gaelle, P. (2002). Young People’s Changing Routes to Independence (York: Joseph Rowntree Foundation).Google Scholar
  7. Callender, C. and Jackson, J. (2008). ‘Does the Fear of Debt Constrain Choice of University and Subject of Study?’ Studies in Higher Education 33 (4), 405–29.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Chapman, J. (2013). ‘No Benefit for Your Third Child If You’re on the Dole: Tories Unveil Controversial Welfare Plan’. Daily Mail On-Line 16/7/2013. Available from: (accessed on 15 February 2014).Google Scholar
  9. Clapham, D., Buckley, K., Mackie, P., Orford, S. and Stafford, I. (2012). Young People and Housing in 2020: Identifying Key Drivers for Change (York: Joseph Rowntree Organisation).Google Scholar
  10. Clapham, D., Kemp, P. and Smith, S. (1990). Housing and Social Policy (Basingstoke: Macmillan).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Coles, B., Rugg, J. and Seavers, J. (1999). ‘Young Adults Living in the Parental Home. The Implications of Extended Youth Transitions for Housing and Social Policy’, in Rugg, J. (ed.) Young People, Housing and Social Policy (London: Routledge), pp. 159–81.Google Scholar
  12. Council of Mortgage Lenders (2011). First-time Buyers and Affordability: A Fresh Perspective (London: Council of Mortgage Lenders).Google Scholar
  13. DWP (2011). ‘Housing Benefit: Equality Impact Assessment. Increasing the Shared Accommodation Rate Age Threshold to 35’, Available from: (accessed on 15 February 2014).Google Scholar
  14. DWP (2012). ‘Housing Benefit: Under Occupation of Social Housing’, Available from: (accessed on 15 February 2014).Google Scholar
  15. Fehlberg, B., Smyth, B., Maclean, M. and Roberts, C. (2011). ‘Legislating for Shared Time Parenting after Separation: A Research Review’. International Journal of Law, Policy and the Family 25 (3), 318–37.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Fitzpatrick, S. and Pawson, H. (2007). ‘Welfare Safety Net or Tenure of Choice? The Dilemma Facing Social Housing Policy in England’. Housing Studies 22 (2), 163–82.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Ford, J., Rugg, J. and Burrows, R. (2002). ‘Conceptualising the Contemporary Role of Housing in the Transition to Adult Life in England’. Urban Studies 39 (13), 2455–67.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Forrest, R. and Murie, A. (1983). ‘Residualisation and Council Housing: Aspects of the Changing Social Relations of Housing Tenure’. Journal of Social Policy 12 (4), 453–68.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Furlong, A. and Cooney, G.H. (1990). ‘Getting on Their Bikes: Teenagers Leaving Home in Scotland in the 1980s’. Journal of Social Policy 19 (4), 535–51.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Griffin, C. (1993). Representations of Youth: The Study of Youth and Adolescence in Britain and America (Cambridge: Polity Press).Google Scholar
  21. Heath, S. (2004). ‘Peer-shared Households, Quasi-Communes and Neo-Tribes’. Current Sociology 52, 161–79.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Heath, S. and Calvert, E. (2013). ‘Gifts, Loans and Intergenerational Support for Young Adults’. Sociology 1–16.Google Scholar
  23. Holdsworth, C. (2009). ‘“Going away to uni”: Mobility, Modernity, and Independence of English Higher Education Students’. Environment and Planning 41 (8), 1849–64.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Jones, G. (1995). Leaving Home (Buckingham: Open University Press).Google Scholar
  25. Kelly, K. (2013). ‘We Must Balance the Need for New Housing against the Need for Affordable Homes’. JRF Blog Available from: (accessed on 15 February 2014).Google Scholar
  26. Kemp, P. and Rugg, J. (1998). The Single Room Rent: Its Impact on Young People. (University of York: Centre for Housing Policy).Google Scholar
  27. Kemp, P.A. (2011). ‘Low-Income Tenants in the Private Rental Housing Market’. Housing Studies 26 (7/8), 1019–34.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Kennett, P., Forrest, R. and Marsh, A. (2012). ‘The Global Economic Crisis and the Reshaping of Housing Opportunities’. Housing, Theory and Society 30, 1–19.Google Scholar
  29. MacDonald, R. (1998). ‘Youth, Transitions and Social Exclusion: Some Issues for Youth Research in the UK’. Journal of Youth Studies 1 (2), 163–76.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Malpass, P. (2004). ‘Fifty Years of British Housing Policy: Leaving or leading the Welfare State?’ European Journal of Housing Policy 4 (2), 209–27.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Mandic, S. (2008). ‘Home-Leaving and Its Structural Determinants in Western and Eastern Europe: An Exploratory Study’. Housing Studies 23 (4), 615–36.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. McKee, K. (2012). ‘Young People, Homeownership and Future Welfare’. Housing Studies 27 (6), 853–62.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Ministry for Justice and Department for Education (2012). The Government Response to the Family Justice Review: A System with Children and Families at Its Heart (London: The Stationery Office).Google Scholar
  34. Murie, A. (2012). ‘The Next Blueprint for Housing Policy in England’. Housing Studies 27 (7), 1031–47.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Office for National Statistics (2008). ‘Labour Force Survey User Guide’. Volume 8: Household and Family Data (London: The Stationery Office).Google Scholar
  36. Office for National Statistics (2011). ‘Households and Families’, in Beaumont, J. (ed.) Social Trends 41 (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan).Google Scholar
  37. Office for National Statistics (2012). Characteristics of Young Unemployed Peoplem, 2012. Office for National Statistics (London: The Stationery Office).Google Scholar
  38. Office for National Statistics (2013). Labour Market Statistics, June 2013 (London: The Stationery Office).Google Scholar
  39. Patiniotis, J. and Holdsworth, C. (2005). ‘Seize That Chance! Leaving Home and Transitions to Higher Education’. Journal of Youth Studies 8 (1), 81–95.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Roberts, S. (2011). ‘Beyond “NEET” and “Tidy” Pathways: Considering the “Missing Middle” of Youth Transition Studies’. Journal of Youth Studies 14 (1), 21–39.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Roberts, S. (2013). ‘Youth Studies, Housing Transitions and the “Missing Middle”: Time for a Rethink?’ Sociological Research Online 18 (3), 11.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Rugg, J. (1999). Young People, Housing, and Social Policy (New York: Psychology Press).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Rugg, J. and Rhodes, D. (2008). The Private Rented Sector: Its Contribution and Potential (University of York: Centre for Housing Policy).Google Scholar
  44. Rugg, J., Rhodes, D. and Wilcox, S. (2011). Unfair Shares: A Report on the Impact of Extending the Shared Accommodation Rate of Housing Benefit (York/London: Crisis/Centre for Housing Policy).Google Scholar
  45. Smart, C. (2004). ‘Equal Shares: Rights for Fathers or Recognition for Children?’ Critical Social Policy 24 (4), 484–503.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Smith, J. (2004). ‘Risk, Social Change and Strategies of Inclusion for Young Homeless People’, in Barry, M. (ed.) Youth Policy and Social Inclusion: Critical Debates with Young People (London, Routledge), pp. 131–151.Google Scholar
  47. Speak, S. (1999). ‘Housing and Young Single parent Families’, in Rugg, J. (ed.) Young People, Housing and Social Policy (London: Routledge), pp. 127–144.Google Scholar
  48. Stone, J., Berrington, A. and Falkingham, J. (2011). ‘The Changing Determinants of UK Young Adults’ Living Arrangements’. Demographic Research 25 (20), 629–66.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Stone, J., Berrington, A. and Falkingham, J. (2013). ‘Gender, Turning Points and Boomerangs: Returning Home in Young Adulthood in Great Britain’. Demography 51 (1), 257–67.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. The Telegraph (25 June 2012). David Cameron: ‘Questions Need Asking on Welfare’, The Telegraph. Available from: (accessed on 15 February 2014).
  51. Wilcox, S. (2005). ‘Trends in Housing Affordability,’ in Regan, S. (ed.) The Great Divide: An Analysis of Housing Inequality (London: Shelter), pp. 117–44.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Ann Berrington and Juliet Stone 2014

Authors and Affiliations

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations