Calls to support social housing tenants as survey shows many struggling with essential bills
A survey of over 700 social housing tenants has shown that the cost-of-living crisis continues to pull more people into poverty, with almost half saying the crisis has affected their physical and mental health.
The Scottish Federation of Housing Associations (SFHA) is calling for the Scottish Government to commit to long term funding to support social tenants struggling with the cost of basic essentials like fuel and food.
The research conducted by West of Scotland Housing Association found that 60% said they were “worried a lot” about affording food with nearly 80% saying the same for energy costs.
As these costs rose, 55% had limited contact with friends and 44% missed meals in order to limit spending.
A recent survey of SFHA members outlined the extensive support that housing associations provide to tenants, with 95% providing financial advice and support.
As part of the Scottish Government’s Winter Hardship Fund, SFHA secured £1 million to ensure social landlords were able to respond to food insecurity through the winter.
Alongside this, through the Scottish Government’s most recent round of the Social Housing Fuel Insecurity Fund, SFHA provided housing associations with £7.25 million to support 55,000 households struggling to pay for fuel.
Ahead of the Scottish Government setting out its annual plans as part of next month’s Programme for Government, SFHA says it’s clear that this funding must continue until at least the end of the Parliamentary term.
The member body also says the government must take decisive action to deliver more social homes and decarbonise housing to reduce tenants' energy bills, if the First Minister is to meet his own targets on child poverty and net zero.
Sally Thomas, CEO of SFHA said: “This government has put tackling child poverty at the centre of its agenda: and to deliver on that, the First Minister must prioritise social homes.
“Social housing is so much more than an affordable rent. Making sure that someone has a safe, warm and affordable home is one of the biggest differences we can make to people’s lives. And that’s what our housing associations and co-operatives do.
“But they need the right support. So ahead of the Programme for Government, SFHA is urging the Scottish Government to deliver the affordable homes we desperately need, support social housing providers to tackle the climate emergency and shore up support for tenants who are struggling with the cost of living right now.”
Today’s call comes as part of SFHA’s campaign, Housing at Scotland’s Heart, which aims to tell the story of Scotland’s social homes and what they mean for the people who live in them.