High housing costs a concern for one in four people in 2021, Shelter Scotland finds

High housing costs a concern for one in four people in 2021, Shelter Scotland finds

A quarter of renters and mortgage holders are worried about not being able to pay their housing costs in 2021, according to new research published today by Shelter Scotland.

The housing charity said the burden of high housing costs is blighting people’s finances, wellbeing and relationships and that far too many are living in the shadow of losing their home.

The YouGov survey, conducted in December, also found that in 2020, in order to meet their housing costs:

  • More than one in four (28%) of renters or mortgage-holders cut back on spending
  • More than one in ten (12%) had skipped meals
  • Nearly one in five (18%) left the heating off in cold weather.

And the charity is calling for more help for people building up serious rent arrears during the pandemic.

Last year, a third (33%) were forced to borrow from their overdrafts or credit cards, or from friends and family to pay landlords, banks and building societies.

The pressure is taking its toll. A fifth (21%) of renters and mortgage holders say worry about meeting housing costs is causing them to have trouble sleeping. Almost a third (30%) said it made them feel stressed and 18% reported feeling depressed. One in ten (10%) felt their relationships with close family and friends had suffered as a result of the pressure of housing costs.

When asked what Scottish political parties should prioritise to help families struggling with housing costs, 50% of respondents supported building more homes for social rent and 35% supported management of social and private rents, compared to just 19% who supported extending the Land and Buildings Transaction Tax (sometimes known as stamp duty) holiday.

Alison Watson, director of Shelter Scotland, said: “Too many people are living under intolerable pressure just to keep the roof over their heads. It’s not acceptable to have people going hungry and shivering in cold homes in Scotland in 2021.

“We’ve seen the Scottish Government step up and extend the ban on evictions until the end of March but that will not be enough, and it won’t stop people drowning in the debt that is building up.

“We want to see grants not more debts forced on tenants to escape the pressure; more debt isn’t the answer.

“We also need to look past emergency measures to long-term solutions. The only way to tackle the housing emergency and give hope to struggling families is to keep building more affordable homes.

“To date the Scottish Government has brought security to tens of thousands of individuals and families with major social house-building programmes, but the job isn’t done and this is the worst possible time to take the foot off the accelerator.

“That’s why we’re calling on all political parties to commit to stop the spiralling demand for an affordable home by building 37,100 new social homes during the next five years.”

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