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94% of UK's social housing tenants face financial pains

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94% of UK's social housing tenants face financial pains

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Published by Max Salsbury for 24dash.com in Housing and also in Communities

94% of UK's social housing tenants face financial pains 94% of UK's social housing tenants face financial pains

The mass majority of the UK's social housing tenants have faced some kind of financial difficulty in the past six months, shocking new research has found.

With a massive 94% having to deal with financial woes of some description, the research by independent community interest company Money Saving Movement (MSM) revealed that 43% of tenants have struggled with household essentials.

And tenants don't view their social landlords as a primary source of help, with 10% saying they would approach their bank for help, compared with only 5% who would talk to their housing association.

MSM claims that its research "adds further weight to a growing body of evidence" that low-income households are bearing the worst brunt of the financial crisis, as well as the resultant recession.

With the cost of living having risen 25% since 2008, low income households are now also facing an average extra yearly cost of £1,280.

For the 13 million people living below the poverty line in the UK, these added expenses can mean the difference between living on the breadline, or being pushed over the edge into damaging debt-spirals, MSM has warned.

Fionn Travers-Smith, MSM's co-founder and spokesperson, said: “For those living in lower income households, the reality is that life today is the hardest it has been in a generation. While jobs offering decent pay or decent hours are scarce, families and individuals are struggling to afford even the basics to get by.

"With limited financial provision provided to those in poverty and support services often not getting through to the right people at the right time, families and individuals are constantly forced to make dire decisions between getting ripped off or living in deprivation.”

MSM says that, with 3.7 million English households living in social housing, and almost half of those earning a low income, financial difficulties for low-income households could prove a "serious problem" for social housing providers.

Though MSM says that many housing associations are working to mitigate the issues and do provide a variety of support services to their tenants, the company has warned that further looming social security cuts will cost those in poverty an average extra £2,744 a year.

“There is a financial crisis brewing amongst social housing residents in the UK, and the sad fact is that with the government’s planned cuts to social security, things are only likely to get worse before they get better,” added Fionn Travers-Smith.

“Payday loans are being used for rent, unpaid bills are stacking up behind the sofa, and ringing phones are being left unanswered in case it’s debt collectors on the other end.

“Forward-thinking social housing providers are working extremely hard to support their residents through these tough times, and today’s figures show the urgent need for those services. What’s clear, though, is that these vital services must be expanded, with more innovation and cross-sector collaboration encouraged in supporting social housing residents’ financial health & general wellbeing.”

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