More than half of people renting – 49 per cent in private rented housing and 66 per cent in social housing – would face financial difficulties if their income fell, such as through a cut in housing benefit, according to a YouGov poll commissioned by the TUC and the Fabian Society published today (Friday). The polling forms part of a forthcoming Fabian research project for the TUC addressing the links between housing and employment policy.
While the government is cutting housing benefit and mortgage support, more than half the population want to see greater support from government for renters and mortgage payers who get into difficulties with housing costs or who face losing their home.
The figures show that the government’s housing benefit cuts will not easily be absorbed by renters, nor be popular with voters.
TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber said: “It is no wonder the housing benefit cuts are causing such difficulties for the government, even within their own parties.
“Ministers want us to believe that housing benefit is going to what they would call work-shy scroungers, yet in reality only one claimant in eight is unemployed. The rest are mainly low-income working households, pensioners or the disabled.
“Then they tell us that people can absorb a cut in their housing benefit. This poll shows that most cannot. One in three renters already says that the stress of keeping up their rent payments has hit their performance at work.
“Thousands of people will have to uproot and move out of homes where they may have lived for years and have settled lives. Children will have to move schools. Lone parents carefully juggling work and child-care will lose support networks and have to give up work.”
YouGov found that 31 per cent of private renters and 44 per cent of social renters said that their income is normally about the same as spending; but if their income was to fall by say, 10 per cent, that it would cause real difficulty. Of those surveyed, 18 per cent of private renters and 22 per cent of social renters said that they were already worried because their income was less than their expenditure.
The survey revealed that 39 per cent of private renters and 31 per cent of social renters reported that the stress of maintaining their rent payments has affected their performance at work.
When asked “Taking into account current pressures on public spending, to what extent do you agree that government should provide a stronger ‘safety-net’”, 56 per cent agreed with more support for renters and 60 per cent with more support for homeowners “who face difficulties with their housing costs or face repossession”.
* Poll details: All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 1,967 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 24-25 October 2010. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+). Full
poll results including a breakdown by voting intention are available at www.tuc.org.uk/extras/housingpoll.pdf