Renters across Scotland need significantly more financial support from the government than they currently receive.
That’s according to the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF), which has published research findings that highlight the ways in which the Covid crisis has disproportionately impacted renters across the country.
Those findings suggest that rent arears and debts have been piling up for a very significant proportion of people who rent their homes over the course of the pandemic.
Indeed, a year after the pandemic began, people who rent rather than own their homes in Scotland were found to be among those most likely to be struggling or unable to pay their debts.
A third of all renters in Scotland were found to have suffered a reduction in their monthly income since March 2020, when the Covid crisis hit the UK in earnest.
In the private rental sector, around 35 per cent of those who report a net loss of income since early last year say they’ve had to resort to borrowing money to make ends meet.
Among social tenants, the latest figures from Scottish Housing show that 12 per cent are in rent arrears, while 17 per cent have been struggling to cover the full costs of their council taxes.
A major part of the problem for renters in Scotland and elsewhere since the pandemic began has been that reduced incomes have often led directly to more financial hardship because renters are so much less likely than their homeowning counterparts to have money set aside as savings.
The JRF has said it wants to see the Scottish government take steps to help ensure that renters who have accumulated debts during the pandemic don’t subsequently find themselves being “locked in poverty”.
The organisation has called for policymakers in Holyrood to ensure that Scotland’s recovery from the Covid crisis can “maximise the role that housing can play in reducing poverty and inequality”.
Policies the JRF would like to see introduced include the creation of a new hardship grant for tenants and a support structure that ensures more Scottish renters can easily gain access to quality financial advice if they need it.
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