As noted in the Observer this week (although no link to it seems to be available) proposed cuts to housing benefit for those under age 35, which are predicated on the assumption that the claimants can live in multiple occupancy accommodation, are likely to have a significant effect on non-resident parents seeking contact to their children. It has apparently been suggested by (unnamed) charities representing the homeless that these changes will represent “a potential disaster for parents who do not have main custody as they will find it much more difficult to convince family courts to grant them access.” I tend to agree. Any unknown quantity in relation to the home circumstances of a non-resident parent can present an obstacle to progression to overnight contact – it will not just be space issues that will cause difficulties, but the presence of other adults in the home who may not have family friendly lifestyles (certainly my experience of multiple occupancy living as a student was about as far away from family friendly as I care to remember) or who may simply be unknown to the other parent. CAFCASS are unlikely to warm to the task of visiting such properties or vetting roomies any more than at present (average temperature marginally above absolute zero). Gingerbread are concerned that the change “could spell disaster for thousands of children who currently enjoy a strong relationship with their on-resident parent”. Just one more way in which a cut in one area has an unintended consequence elsewhere.