Quarter of housing association tenants report being in ‘desperate financial situation’ | Rent Income Excellence Network news

Quarter of housing association tenants report being in ‘desperate financial situation’

Latest research by Peabody and the Social Market Foundation has found that tenants from the housing association are facing huge difficulties due to Covid-19.

Data compiled for the latest Peabody Index shows that the capital is seeing higher unemployment and furlough than the rest of the UK, fewer job vacancies, lower hours and pay for many people who are in work, and the biggest decline in life satisfaction of any region.  

And in a survey of 2,000 Peabody residents, a bleak picture is shown:

  • 54% have either lost their job, been furloughed or are working fewer hours – up from 38% in October last year. 
  • 38% are now earning less than the London Living Wage (up from 24% in August)
  • Just 15% who lost their job have found new paid employment
  • One in five have taken out loans or used credit they can’t afford to buy essentials
  • One in four report being in a desperate financial situation

The analysis also shows that London itself is facing a harsh future as the country prepares to ease lockdown restricts.

The figures reveal:

  • London has the highest unemployment rate in the UK, with double the number of unemployed people than any other region.
  • The capital has the highest furlough rate, with more people furloughed in the capital than Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland combined.
  • Job vacancies in London are still 26% below mid-March levels with the rest of the country now seeing more vacancies than mid-March 2020.
  • Londoners’ emotional health, life satisfaction and anxiety are also significantly worse than in other areas in the UK. Nowhere in England has experienced a larger decline in life satisfaction than London (9.3%). Lower income Londoners were particularly badly affected during lockdown (17.4% decline in life satisfaction). 
  • Unemployment running at 10% in five London boroughs.

On the back of this, Peabody and Social Market Foundation join the growing list of people to call for the £20 uplift in Universal Credit to be permanent, as well as reducing the five-week wait.

They are also calling for the Government to introduce a London Recovery Fund in this week’s Budget, which will provide funding for skills, retraining and access to mental health and wellbeing for those hardest hit.

Brendan Sarsfield, Peabody Chief Executive said: “The survey of Peabody residents shows that people on low incomes across the capital are really struggling as the lockdown continues. London already had the highest rates of poverty in the UK and the new jobs crisis caused by Covid is making this worse.

“We’re doing what we can through our resident wellbeing programme, but London needs more support from central government to make sure the poor are not left behind as a result of the public health disaster over the last year.

“We hope that next week’s budget will provide financial backing to support struggling Londoners through the ongoing emergency, and lay the foundations for a strong, comprehensive recovery for everybody.”

Scott Corfe, Research Director at the Social Market Foundation, said: “Over the past year, not only has London seen a much faster rise in unemployment than the rest of the country, but it has also seen a bigger fall in life satisfaction and wellbeing. This is particularly true for those on lower incomes.

“Although the vaccine rollout offers hope of a return to normality later this year, there is a risk that the capital will emerge more unequal than before the pandemic.

“The rise of working from home, reduced tourism and online shopping could lead to significant job losses in sectors such as retail and hospitality. It is vital that government continues to support those struggling in the current economic circumstances.”

John Dickie, Director of Strategy and Policy London First said: “This survey reinforces that the capital has lost more jobs than any other region during the pandemic, and many of those Londoners will need the opportunity to retrain in the months and years ahead.

“It is crucial that the Government brings forward a plan to help re-skill everyone affected so that when the worst of the pandemic is over, the country can recover at pace.”