As highlighted at the HSA conference dinner this year, our Valerie Karn prize winner for 2024 is Rhiannon Williams (University of Sheffield).

The Valerie Karn prize is awarded annually to an Early Career Researcher HSA member presenting at the Conference. Rhiannon will be supported in the professional production and dissemination of her paper, so please keep an eye on Rhiannon's work for more updates on this.

Rhiannon's great paper explores the spatial variation in Universal Credit’s effects on housing insecurity.


Universal Credit is the primary system through which benefits are administered in the United Kingdom. While past work has considered the effect of the shift to this new benefits system, fewer studies have considered how those effects might vary geographically. This study investigates the area-level variation in Universal Credit’s effects on housing security among private and social renters, exploring at what geographical scales variation occurs. We applied a five-level multilevel logistic regression model to Understanding Society data. Findings showed that there is significant variation in the association between Universal Credit and housing insecurity across low-level geographies of MSOAs and LSOAs. This inequality reaches beyond area levels, with different individual characteristics and areas intersecting with particular population groups to form especially vulnerable sub-populations, such as Income Support claimants living in the North East of England and Housing Benefit claimants living in London. The varied vulnerability to Universal Credit-related housing insecurity demonstrates a misalignment between the centralised one-size-fits-all Universal Credit system and heterogeneity of the populations and places it serves, resulting in unequal and harmful effects for many claimants.

Twitter/ X: @RWilliamsSheff

You can read more about Valerie Karn, the prize and previous winners here.

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