Long-term illness, poor health and housing (im)mobility.

Shuttleworth and Green (2010) examined the daily work-related (commuting) expectations of Incapacity Benefit (IB) claimants in NI by means of a DEL-sponsored survey. Lower levels of expected work-related mobility were associated with urban neighbourhood contexts, limited access to private transport, poor educational attainment, and public rented housing. The proposal builds on this work by examining the housing mobility of a similar and closely matched set of NILS respondents to understand the wider dimensions of the mobility/immobility experiences of the long-term ill and economically inactive.

This group is of key interest to policymakers given past (and continuing) policies to reduce the numbers of people on sickness benefits, the greater labour market barriers experienced by people with health problems, and the recognition that spatial mobility in housing and work is one important component in the employability mix. Recent Coalition statements about reaching ‘hard-to-reach’ groups and the problems faced by those fixed ‘in place’ by health problems and difficulties in leaving socially-rented housing give extra edge to this.

The proposal therefore aims to investigate if housing mobility can sometimes act as a substitute for commuting; whether similar people to those with low labour market spatial mobility expectations are particularly immobile in the housing market; and whether (and how) those with health problems face greater mobility problems for accessing work and for housing.



Shuttleworth, I. (2013) The intersections of labour market and household mobility: IB claimants and limiting long-term illness in Northern Ireland. Office of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister (OFMDFM).

Shuttleworth, I. & Green, A. (2012) ‘Workers and Jobs: Rationales for mobility and immobility’ – presented at the RGS/IBS Conference Edinburgh, 3 July 2012.

Research Team: Dr Ian Shuttleworth and Prof. Anne Green
Database: NILS
Project Status: Complete
Organisation(s): Queen’s University Belfast and Institute for Employment Research, University of Warwick