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Older private renters going without food and clothing to cover home costs – NHF

by: Peter Taberner
  • 01/12/2023
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Older private renters going without food and clothing to cover home costs – NHF
More than two fifths of those who rent privately and are who aged 55 and over are struggling to afford basic living costs, according to a housing organisation.

In a study carried out by YouGov for the National Housing Federation (NHF), it was discovered that 42 per cent of older private renters who are 55 and over said that they regularly found it difficult to buy food, heating their homes, or pay for clothes.

The report highlights the harsh realities faced by many older people who rent expensive and insecure homes.

There has been a rise of over 70 per cent during the past decade in those aged 55 and over who are renting accommodation the NHF found.

Today, there are 866,870 older private renting households, and the research revealed that 364,479 households are fighting to cover essential costs.

The study also showed that just under half  (48 per cent)  of older private renters worry about getting into debt due to living and household costs.

Almost half also said that their current financial situations severely hampers their quality.

Meanwhile, nearly a quarter of the respondents in the survey said that that they had approached their landlords and asked to leave their current or recent home.

The current conditions for the age group is also showing signs of becoming more isolating, as more than a third of those asked said they saw less of family and friends as they are worried about the costs of visiting.

Retirement is also being put off further into the distance, as over half said that they wanted to finish work but currently couldn’t afford to due to higher costs.

Broken housing system

The NHF said that the findings uncover the extent of the broken housing system in the UK, as the shortage of available rental properties  mean that many are now forced to live in expensive and insecure places.

The research also anticipated a ticking time bomb for pensioners affected by insecurity and high costs in the private rented sector. The research showed that pre-retirement private renters in the 55-64 age group have increased faster than any other group at six times the rate of the overall population in ten years.

Typically average earnings fall after the age of 50, and as this group enters into retirement with no other housing options available, there is the potential for a huge increase in pensioners living in privately rented homes they cannot afford.

‘Chronic lack of social housing’

Kate Henderson, chief executive of the NHF, said: “Today’s report shows that the chronic lack of social housing is now impacting our aging population in devastating ways. The health of older private renters is at risk as hundreds of thousands struggle to buy food and heat their homes, and when even seeing friends and family is too expensive this leads to loneliness and isolation.

More worrying still, the research indicates that an already critical situation is on the verge of getting much worse, as a huge number of middle-aged private renters approach retirement with no affordable housing options available to them.

“This exemplifies how broken our housing system has become, that the very people that social housing exists to support, the poorest and most vulnerable in our society – are now living in the least secure, poorest quality and most expensive homes in the private rented sector. This is the result of successive Governments failing to plan for affordable homes over the long term. There is no time to lose.”

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