Exploring affordability: what can housing associations do to better support their tenants?
Economic uncertainty over recent years has created a climate in which people living on low incomes are experiencing growing constraints. Over the past decade and times of austerity, stagnating wages and cuts in social security benefits combined with the rising cost of items such as food, energy and childcare, have squeezed household budgets. Furthermore, concerns about the continued roll out of Universal Credit, the affordability of housing, unstable forms of employment, and the rise of in-work poverty, mean an ever more fluid and insecure environment for many low income households. The precarity and difficulties experienced by low income households are evident for example through increased use of foodbanks linked to issues with the benefit system, in particular Universal Credit, alongside challenging life events and lack of informal support (Sosenko et al., 2019), and the stark reality of ‘holiday hunger’, and ‘period poverty’ provoking demands for government response (Forsey, 2017; Government Equalities Office, 2019). Increased levels of unsecured personal debt most acutely affects those on lowest incomes who, relative to their income, borrow more and pay higher interest, and are more likely to have ‘problem debt’ where the extent of repayments can be a significant financial and psychological burden (Clifton and Gibbons, 2018; Hood, Joyce and Sturrock, 2018). Furthermore, the lack of affordable housing due to the shortage of social housing, and a growing gap between frozen Local Housing Allowance rates (Housing Benefit in the Private Rented Sector (PRS)) and rents mean that many low income households face significant rent shortfalls. The growing challenge of finding affordable housing has been linked to homelessness, families living in temporary accommodation (often for extended periods) and overcrowded conditions (Children’s Commissioner, 2019; NHF, 2019; Weekes, 2019).....
Commissioned by: Futures Housing
- Social Sciences and Humanities
- Social and Policy Studies
- Centre for Research in Social Policy (CRSP)