New research from the Scottish Housing Regulator highlights the significant and worsening financial difficulties being experienced by tenants. The report is based on feedback from the Regulator’s National Panel of Tenants and Service Users, which has nearly 500 members.
A quarter of members that responded said they are not managing well financially, and around three quarters feel that their financial circumstances are worse now than twelve months ago. Panel members identified increased food and energy costs as the biggest contributors to financial difficulties, with more than 7 in 10 saying these have had a significant impact.
More than half of respondents were having difficulty heating their home at the time of the survey in the early months of 2023, compared with just under a third at the same point in 2022. Nine in ten respondents cited energy costs as the main factor contributing to difficulties in heating their home. The vast majority of respondents are concerned about their future financial circumstances.
The research also focused on rent levels and annual increases. Two in five respondents reported experiencing difficulties in affording their rent in the last year, up on the level for the previous year. Feedback linked these difficulties to heating costs, rent levels and other living costs.
Most respondents had received information from their landlord in the last year about annual rent increases, with the majority saying their landlord provided different rent increase options, information on what options might mean for services, and asked for their views on proposed increases.
More broadly, the report also explored Panel members’ views on their landlords’ decision making, opportunities for involvement and information to tenants. A further strand of the report was a series of in-depth discussions with people with experience of using homelessness services.
Speaking at today’s TPAS Annual Conference, Helen Shaw, the Regulator’s Director of Regulation, said: “Our work with the National Panel is an important way for us to better understand the priorities, concerns and thoughts of tenants and service users of social landlords in Scotland. This year’s report once again highlights that tenants are facing significant cost of living challenges, and that pressures on household finances have heightened. We hope the research is helpful to everyone with an interest in social housing.”
The research was carried out for the Regulator by Engage Scotland.
The Panel 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 Scotland at email@example.com
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 eight Board members. More information about the Regulator can be found on its website at housingregulator.gov.scot
- SHR sets out how it regulates social landlords in its published framework – Regulation of Social Housing in Scotland.
- The Regulator’s previous reports on its research from the National Panel of Tenants and Service Users is available on its website https://www.housingregulator.gov.scot/for-tenants/national-panel-of-tenants-and-service-users-research-reports
- More information about the National Panel of Tenants and Service Users and how to join is available on the Regulator’s website https://www.housingregulator.gov.scot/for-tenants/how-we-involve-tenants-and-service-users/national-panel-of-tenants-and-service-users