New research from the Scottish Housing Regulator highlights tenants’ difficulties in managing their housing costs and wider finances. The report brings together feedback from the National Panel of Tenants and Service Users. The feedback suggests an upward trend in the financial pressures tenants are facing, with higher levels of concerns about future financial circumstances than in last year’s survey.
Nearly a third of National Panel members who took part in this year’s survey said they are not managing well with their housing costs, including rent, energy bills and other housing-related costs. The same proportion are not managing well with their finances as a whole. Around half have experienced difficulties affording their rent. Four fifths are also concerned about the future affordability of their rent.
The insight into tenants’ financial circumstances was part of the annual programme of research from the Regulator’s National Panel. Members also fed back through the survey on a range of issues relating to landlords’ key attributes, accessibility and responsiveness.
Alongside the survey, the programme looked at services for people who are homeless, Gypsy/Travellers and factored owners. The homelessness research highlighted the diverse nature of people’s circumstances and needs when accessing services, their emotional needs and the impact of support from service staff. The feedback from Gypsy/Travellers showed widespread positive feedback about the improvements social landlords have made to sites as well as suggestions for further improvements. Factored owners also gave positive and negative views of their experiences as well as views on value for money.
The COVID-19 lockdown restrictions meant that fewer people than planned were able to take part in the homelessness and Gypsy/Traveller services part of the programme this year. The National Panel provides a flavour of views, rather than a wholly representative account. The impact of COVID-19 on the homelessness and Gypsy/Traveller elements means that the feedback should be treated as illustrative. The Regulator has published the findings because they nevertheless draw out some important themes that will be of wider interest.
Iain Muirhead, the Regulator’s Director of Digital and Business Support, said: “This year’s National Panel report again gives us an important insight into tenants’ and service users’ experiences. The feedback is a clear reminder for everyone working in social housing of the financial pressures tenants face. The survey took place before lockdown, and COVID-19 will obviously have heightened these pressures for many people. It is vital that social landlords continue to work with tenants to ensure the rent they charge is at a level tenants can afford to pay.”
The research was carried out for the Regulator by Engage Scotland.
The Panel has more than 450 members. It is open to anyone who is a social housing tenant or uses social landlords’ services. Membership is diverse and includes people from urban and rural areas, across age bands, local authority and RSL tenants. Anyone interested in joining the Panel should contact Engage at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Notes to editors
- The Scottish Housing Regulator was established on 1 April 2011 under the Housing (Scotland) Act 2010. Its objective is to safeguard and promote the interests of tenants and others who use local authority and RSL housing services. The Regulator operates independently of Scottish Ministers and is accountable directly to the Scottish Parliament. It assumed its full regulatory responsibilities on 1 April 2012. The Regulator consists of the Chair and seven Board members. More information about the Regulator can be found on its website at www.scottishhousingregulator.gov.uk
- SHR regulates around 160 registered social landlords and the housing activities of 32 local authorities.
- SHR sets out how it regulates social landlords in its published framework – Regulation of Social Housing in Scotland.
- The results of the 2019 survey of the Regulator’s National Panel of Tenants and Service Users is available here https://www.housingregulator.gov.scot/for-tenants/national-panel-of-tenants-and-service-users-research-reports/national-panel-of-tenants-and-service-users-overall-summary-august-2019