By Anais Mampuya
Published on January 14, 2019
SCOTS are struggling to pay for their home has increased by nearly a third in the last two years, according to a study.
YouGov published a research indicating that 12% of a sample size of 600 people said they were currently struggling to pay their rent or mortgage costs.
The number is an increase on the 9% of respondents from two years ago when the same survey was conducted.
YouGov suggests that the 12% figure is equivalent to nearly 200,000 households in Scotland.
Last year’s figures showed that one million Scots were living in poverty after they had paid their rent or mortgage.
The problem has worsened in recent years as four in 10 (36%) respondents said that they would struggle to pay their rent or mortgage if it rose by as little as £50 a month in 2019, while 39% admitted they had at least once borrowed money from a friend, used a credit card or used their savings to pay their rent or mortgage.
The research was commissioned by Shelter Scotland, a charity helping people struggling with housing or homelessness.
Shelter Scotland has warned that ignoring money worries rather than seeking advice could lead to people’s homes being put at risk.
According to the charity, one household every 18 minutes was made homeless in Scotland last year, with nearly 11,000 households forced to live in temporary accommodation – including more than 14,000 children.
Graeme Brown, director of Shelter Scotland, said: “It’s quite clear from these numbers that tens of thousands of people in Scotland are entering 2019 worrying about meeting the costs of their rent or mortgage over the next few months and that many thousands more would struggle with even a modest rise on those costs.
“A perfect storm of austerity, harsh welfare reforms, stagnant wages, job insecurity and the high cost of housing are making it harder for people to make ends meet and plan for the future.
“It’s a disgrace that in 21st century Scotland so many people should have to worry about the basic right of keeping a roof over their heads.”
Mr Brown also said that Shelter advisers are available to help anyone worried about paying for their housing costs, at risk of homelessness or struggling with bad housing.
“It’s absolutely vital that people who do find themselves struggling to make ends meet and keep a roof over their heads should seek help sooner rather than later.
“It’s much better to put a plan in place to deal with debt and arrears in the early stages rather than wait for eviction notices and court orders.
“All year round our teams are ready to help, but, in order to do so, we need help from the public so we can keep up our fight against bad housing and homelessness.“
Many Scots agreed with the results of the study and shared their concerns on social media.
The situation is not any different in Ayrshire. Rick Bamford, Landlord Liaison Officer of SeAscape, a charity helping homeless and disadvantaged people in South Ayrshire, said: “We have the Support contract with South Ayrshire to provide tenancy support to Council Tenants, we run a Rent Deposit Scheme to help people looking for a private rented property who cannot afford their own deposit.
“To a certain extend rents are static here as they tend to be linked to the Local Housing Allowance (LHA) rates, which have not changed for a number of years. Rents for properties in better areas have moved up, pricing our clients out of the market. Larger properties of 3 bedrooms or more have definitely crept up in rent, it is now very difficult to find a 3 bed house at the LHA rate of approximatively £500 per month.
“Issues with Universal Credit are well documented and have caused many clients problems. Young people are particularly hard hit. If you are single an under 35 years of age you housing allowance is £62.69 per week (£270 per month), it is extremely difficult to find any sort of accommodation for this. Even if you do, the standard rates of benefit, £251.77 per month for under single claimant under age 25 and £317.82 per month for single claimant aged 25 or over, make it difficult to sustain a tenancy .
“It is very difficult to heat a property and meet the various other bills on these rates. Clients invariably do not even have the full rate as they have had an advance payment to cover the waiting period for Universal Credit.“
Shelter Scotland is currently fighting to get housing to be treated as a human right in Scotland.
Learn more about the housing situation in Scotland by listening to Shelter Scotland‘s podcasts on Soundcloud.