Number of children in PRS living in severe poverty doubles in a decade

Scottish Labour has condemned a lack of affordable homes and “rip-off” private rents it said are driving more families into poverty.

The party’s analysis of Scottish Government data reveals that 20,000 children in the private rented sector were living in severe poverty during the three year period between 2005/06 - 2007/08.

However, the latest three year period, covering 2015/16 to 2017/18, reveals that figure has more than doubled to 50,000.

Severe poverty is defined as being below 50% of UK median income after housing cost.

Labour said the figures underlined the impact of Scotland’s housing crisis, with a lack of affordable housing pushing low income people into the under regulated and more precarious private rented sector.

The party has set a target of 12,000 council and housing association homes built per year and is working on a ‘Mary Barbour law’ to help deliver fair rents in Scotland.

Scottish Labour housing spokesperson, Pauline McNeill, said: “The housing crisis is creating acute child poverty across Scotland. Too many families are caught in a vicious cycle – a lack of affordable public housing forces people to rent privately and as a result they are paying rip-off rents which hammers their cost of living.

“We need an urgent change of pace – building more homes for social rent and fixing the problems in the private rented sector. Building more homes is key, social housing is the best value for money as an investment in the nation’s housing stock.”

Communities secretary Aileen Campbell said: “Tackling – and ultimately eradicating – child poverty in Scotland is one of our main priorities.

“We do this despite the UK Government’s policies that will reduce social security spend in Scotland by £3.7 billion by 2020-21, which is pushing people into poverty. We are investing around £125 million every year to mitigate the worst of these cuts and support those on low incomes.

“In our Tackling Child Poverty Delivery Plan, we committed to working with the social housing sector to agree the best ways to keep rents affordable, evaluating the impact of the new private residential tenancy on families with children and ensuring that future affordable housing supply decisions support our objective to achieve a real and sustained impact on child poverty.

“Access to good quality housing is a vital part of our drive to secure economic growth, promote social justice, strengthen communities, and tackle inequality.

“Our target, over the lifetime of this Parliament, is to deliver at least 50,000 affordable homes – 35,000 of which will be for social rent.

“This ambitious target is backed by more than £3bn – the single biggest investment in, and delivery of, affordable housing since devolution.”

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