Renting in Edinburgh: Demand for housing crisis advice doubles as cost-of-living pressures rise

The demand for housing advice has almost doubled as the cost-of-living crisis intensifies, according to a report.

The Citizens Advice Scotland study shows significantly more people are now seeking support on rent costs and other housing issues than they were before the pandemic. Aoife Deery, CAS social justice spokesperson, has called on the Scottish Government to offer more support to those struggling.

Concern around landlords increasing rent prices is now eight times higher than at the start of the pandemic, with views of online advice pages rising 48%. Page views for online advice around foodbanks and crisis support have almost doubled since March 2021.

Preliminary 12-month data for guidance provided by the Citizens Advice Bureaux (CAB) also suggests demand for debt advice is close to pre-pandemic levels. Meanwhile, demand for advice around utilities - namely energy - is now higher than before the pandemic. It represents more than 5% of all advice given, compared to 3.3% before the pandemic.

Figures have shown that Edinburgh rent rises in the last decade are almost double the national average

Ms Deery said: "This data for March 2022 shows that even before the impact of the energy price cap increase in April demand was growing for advice around the cost of living.

"A growing concern has to be housing - we've seen huge increases in demand for page views on landlords increasing rent in March alone.

"Across the CAB network itself, demand for housing advice is now higher than it was before the pandemic.

"It's clear that people are struggling and we need to see action from policy makers to ease the squeeze the cost-of-living crisis is putting on people.

"The CAB network is also here for people. Our advice is free, impartial and confidential and is for everyone. CAB can deliver life-changing results for people.

"Last year we unlocked £147 million, with the average client financial gain being over £4,400. We don't judge, we just help."

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: "We are investing almost £770m per year in cost of living support, including through a range of family benefits not available elsewhere in the UK, doubling the Scottish Child Payment, mitigating the bedroom tax, and increasing Scottish benefits by 6%.

"This is on top of £12 million we are investing this year in organisations such as Citizens Advice Scotland to help people make the most of their income and support those experiencing problem debt.

"And we are also increasing the advice capacity in our flagship Home Energy Scotland service to help more people struggling with bills."

The spokesperson continued: "We have repeatedly called for the UK Government to urgently take further, tangible actions to support households, including a temporary cut in VAT on energy bills, action on the Warm Homes Discount and four-nations discussions to develop an effective response to the energy bill increases.

"Meanwhile, our New Deal for Tenants consultation proposes a whole range of reforms - from better protection against eviction to more rights to personalise tenants' homes and higher quality standards. It sets out our clear commitment to introduce new rent controls in the current Parliamentary session, more than any government within the UK has done for more than three decades."