“Scraping the Barrel” – The Cost of Living for Social Housing Residents: Executive Summary

Scraping the Barrel Cover

Today we launch the first part of our research on the cost of living for social housing residents – and our findings suggest that a financial crisis is brewing in the social housing sector, as residents are increasingly struggling to keep their head above water.

Having spent the last 6 months researching how the unaffordable cost of living is impacting peoples’ lives, Money Saving Movement can reveal the stark realities facing low-income households in the UK today. After surveying over 1,200 social housing residents from 10 Housing Associations across the UK, Money Saving Movement has found that:

The vast majority of residents have experienced some form of hardship  

  • 94% have had financial difficulties in the last six months 

Even the basics are a struggle for many

  • More than 2 in 5 struggle to keep up with household essentials (43%)

Friends and Family are where people go first for help

  • Of those who knew where they would turn, 48% said family & friends

Housing Associations are not seen as a primary source of support

  • Twice as many people would go to their bank for help (10%) than their Housing Association (5%)


Infographic Main Findings

The research adds further weight to a growing body of evidence that suggests 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, thanks to the “Poverty Premium”. 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.

 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.

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.

Many Housing Associations are working to mitigate these issues, and do provide a variety of support services to their residents. But with further social security cuts looming that will cost those in poverty an average extra £2,744 a year, more and more people are struggling to make ends meet.

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.

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.

You can read the full Executive Summary of our research here (6 pages).


3 thoughts on ““Scraping the Barrel” – The Cost of Living for Social Housing Residents: Executive Summary

  1. This is a very interesting article, and I myself read it with some great concern. Having lived in social housing on the Roehampton estate for half a decade I have experienced first hand the sense of desperation that can drive those living on or below the poverty line.

    I ultimately feel that this is an interesting article, but I feel that it potentially lacks relevance as it fails to offer a deeper broadside to current social economic policy as to how and in what way it’s research and analysis is capable of offering trackable and specific plans of action that will result in either sector wide growth, or offering individuals greater awareness of the options available to them to resolve their situation of poverty. Ultimately this article reads like a clinical appraisal of the situation, it is like a cancer cell biopsy delivered without any treatment plan, informative but unhelpful.

    Of course when talking about budgeting one can look at either the Government budgeting priorities or household budgeting priorities, and it becomes even more complex when you include the mega-economics of the modern global economy.

    Therefore in the spirit of good faith, I challenge this great stalwart champion of the people, Fionn Travers-Smith, to provide a more evolving and convextualised action plan for those immediately on the breadline, and those who are conducting the unfilledstomach orchestra.

  2. Pingback: “Scraping the Barrel” – The Cost of Living for Social Housing Residents, Full Report | money saving movement

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