Calls to charity’s housing helpline remain high

Shelter ScotlandNew statistics have highlighted the continued daily struggle of thousands of households across Scotland to keep a roof over their head.

Released today, the figures for 2014 gathered from housing and homelessness charity Shelter Scotland’s free national helpline and services teams showed that 16,300 individual calls for help were answered.

Around 75 per cent (12,092) of people were helped through the charity’s helpline while 4,208 people were helped by its services teams. Of those 4,208 cases, 53 per cent were helped to keep their accommodation, 36 per cent were helped to access housing and 4 per cent were helped to improve their home.

Homelessness, the cost of housing and landlord issues made up 50 percent of all cases opened. An alarming 46 per cent of calls came from people living in the private rented sector - a hugely disproportionate level as only 14 per cent of housing in Scotland is provided by private renting.

Shelter Scotland’s Get Advice section on its website also received around 680,000 hits last year and the charity’s new digital advice (online chat) service has helped over 1,500 people.

Alison Watson, deputy director of Shelter Scotland, said: “These numbers show how thousands of people in Scotland face a daily struggle to keep a roof over their heads, how thousands face bad housing and homelessness and how thousands have trouble with their landlord.

“The high cost of housing, the impact of savage welfare cuts and the increased reliance on the private rented sector are key factors behind many of the calls for help.

“That 46 per cent of people needing our help came from the private rented sector is alarming and underpins the need for reform of the sector.  Reform is the primary focus of our Make Renting Right campaign which aims to make private renting modern, stable, flexible, predictable and fair for those individuals and families that call it home.”

Alison Watson added: “The high level of calls from people living in the private rented sector is also down to the high cost of rent.  High rents are driven and sustained by a major lack of affordable housing. To help many of the people who called us for help this year and to meaningfully tackle our housing crisis, we need to build 10,000 new social homes every year for the foreseeable future.  This will bring hope to the 150,500 households on council waiting lists across Scotland and help stop rents spiralling even higher.

“Despite positive action by the Scottish Government to mitigate the impact of unfair reforms like the bedroom tax and ensuring more affordable housing is being built, the number of cases dealt with by our helpline and services teams still remains high.  We are concerned that things may get worse in the coming months and years, especially when even harsher welfare reforms such as the punitive cuts to housing benefit entitlement for 18-21 year-olds hit home.

“We fear that despite Shelter Scotland’s and other support service’s best efforts, more hardship is on the way which will lead to an even greater demand for our help and will severely test our resources.”


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