Eight out of ten social housing tenants see no sign of improving finances
Around 86 per cent of low income social housing tenants have seen no sign of their financial situation improving despite a recovering economy, a new survey commissioned by UK charity Turn2us has found.
Crucially, households that have experienced just one change in their circumstances are now twice as likely to be struggling financially.
The survey, released to coincide with Turn2us’ annual Benefits Awareness Month, examines the severe financial struggles of households that experienced the onset of illness or disability, a change in their working hours, childbirth or family breakdown in the last year. Almost three fifths (58 per cent) of households that experienced one of these changes say their outgoings now significantly exceed their earnings, while over a third (34 per cent) say their debt levels have worsened. Worryingly, a quarter (26 per cent) of those living in social housing said their debt had increased over the last 12 months.
These struggles are continuing for huge numbers of the poorest in society. Since 2010, families have seen their disposable incomes drop by £400, while the gap between the richest and poorest fifth of households has widened. Since 2008 the proportion of households unable to maintain an acceptable standard of living has risen by nearly a third.
The toll these struggles are taking on lives is severe; eight out of ten tenants are struggling to pay for food and other essentials. Meanwhile, almost half (48 per cent) said that the continuing struggle to cover costs was negatively affecting their health. Despite the struggles, almost a third (31 per cent) of tenants would be put off claiming benefits due to the complexity of applying.
In response to these ongoing problems, Turn2us’ Benefits Awareness Month is focusing on the huge numbers of households still struggling to make ends meet. From 15 April – 15 May Turn2us is encouraging everyone to check what financial support could be available by using Turn2us’ free, online Benefits Calculator at www.BenefitsAwareness.org.uk. The website also features information on what support is available depending on how a household’s circumstances change.
Alison Taylor, director of operations at Turn2us, said: “Today, Turn2us launches Benefits Awareness Month. Many low-income households are already struggling to afford basic goods - just one change in their situation is enough to push them into real financial hardship. That change could be an unexpected bill, becoming ill, bereaved or losing your job. Support is often available through the benefits system but many people are just not aware of the benefits they are entitled to. Through this campaign we aim to highlight the support available, so people are not left struggling without help, at a time they need it most.”