The Joseph Rowntree Foundation, a leading social organisation campaigning against poverty, released its 2023 UK Poverty Report which found that one in 5 people (20%) in the UK are in poverty. This is equal to 13.4 million people with almost 4 million of those being children.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, JRF says that “Around half of private renters and a third of social renters in poverty are only in poverty once housing costs are factored in.” This means that if rents were more aligned with wages, many renters wouldn’t have to choose between heating and eating.
We all have an understanding that private rents have risen to unworkable levels for many, and that has had a huge knock-on effect for people especially those starting out or leaving home. Everyone knows someone who is living with parents longer than they would like or sharing a home with people they don’t know just to afford to live. But this situation is not always temporary as it used to be, and with high energy bills eating away at what might have been spare income in the past for renters, there doesn’t seem to be any light at the end of the tunnel.
The Office for National Statistics reported that UK rents rose 3.8% in the 12 months to October 2022. It reported that wages, when adjusted for inflation, fell during the same period. This isn’t a sustainable situation.
Fair Housing for Frome (FHfF) and Frome Area Community Land Trust (FACLT) set up their organisations to try to help those who have a housing need and since they began, have seen that need grow dramatically. A glance at FHfF’s Housing Noticeboard on Facebook shows a snapshot of the issues, particularly the number of people (of all ages) looking for a room, rather than a whole property.
It’s now unlawful to discriminate against potential renters who are in receipt of some kind of government benefit. Despite the high number of working people who need to claim Universal Credit because their wages are so low, (approx 40% of UC claimants have jobs) renters on benefits in Frome are still being turned away from even viewing a property in some cases.
All these negative factors that are having such a crippling impact on private renters will only increase the housing waiting list in our area. When they take up office in April, the new unitary council must step in and provide council-owned housing to relieve the pressure as neigbouring Wiltshire Council is doing. In the meantime, FACLT is still working on creating affordable rented homes that will never be subject to the rise of open-market prices and they need more community support to achieve their goal. You can join the organisation for just £1 at https://fromeareaclt.org/ which will keep you in touch with their progress.