Tenants ‘struggling to put a roof over their head’

Thousands are unable to hold down a tenancy due to rising costs, lack of affordable housing and welfare reforms.

Homeless people near Westminster Cathedral, Victoria, London.

Shelter Scotland has slammed what it calls a “terrible shortage” of affordable homes in the country.

A new report says a long term housebuilding strategy is the only way forward, with sector bodies agreeing with the charity.

Shelter said it helped over 21,000 people last year, with a household becoming homeless every 19 minutes on average in Scotland.

Issues with landlords, housing costs and housing conditions were the main things tenants were struggling with.

The problem was particularly acute in the private rented sector, which saw 46% of those 21,000 being from the tenure.

Young people were also adversely affected, making up almost half of those who sought advice from Shelter.

Deputy director at Shelter Scotland, Alison Watson, said: “This report shows the disproportionate impact of Scotland’s housing crisis on young people and private renters who are both over-represented in the number of people we helped.

“The terrible shortage of truly affordable homes, harsh welfare reforms, stagnant wages and the high cost of keeping a roof over their head are the main reasons driving people to ask for help.

“Struggling to afford or pay housing costs is the biggest presenting problem people have when coming to us for help.

“The statistics speak for themselves – on average, a household in Scotland becomes homeless every 19 minutes. We are seeing more reports of rough sleepers dying on our city streets.

“Unknown numbers are sofa surfing with friends and families as they don’t have, or cannot afford, a home of their own.

“Our teams were contacted by more than 1,000 households who were already homeless.

“Behind those statistics are people, families, individuals – people on low incomes, people with complex needs, people
in crisis – some of the most 
vulnerable people in our
society.”

Sarah Boyack, SFHA Head of Public Affairs, said: “This report by Shelter Scotland highlights that Scotland desperately needs to tackle its housing crisis.

“While we welcome the Scottish Government’s commitment to increase the affordable housing target to 50,000 homes, we need a sustained long-term approach that goes beyond the lifetime of the current parliament.

“The report also shows that welfare reform is one of the main reasons that people have turned to the charity for help.

“Unfortunately, this is not surprising when welfare policies, such as Universal Credit, can see new claimants waiting up to six weeks until they receive payment.

“The SFHA has repeatedly called for the roll-out of Universal Credit to be halted until it can be shown to be working safely and will continue to lobby the UK Government on this and other welfare reforms which are negatively affecting our members and their tenants.”

It comes as Scottish Labour called out the current government on its affordable homes target, saying it had underestimated the need in the country. 

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