Demand for housing advice in Scotland has almost doubled as the cost of living crisis intensifies.
The latest data from Citizens Advice Scotland (CAS) showed that there is a significant rise in people who are seeking support on rising rent costs and other housing matters since before the pandemic.
Concern around landlords increasing rent prices is now eight times higher than at the beginning of the pandemic, with page views alone on the CAS website seeing a 48% increase in March.
Page views for online advice around food banks and crisis support have almost doubled since March 2021 also.
CAS social justice spokesperson Aoife Deery has called for policy makers to take action.
She 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 landlords increasing rent in March alone. Across the Citizens Advice Bureau network itself, demand for housing related 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.”
Preliminary 12 month data from across the Citizens Advice network suggests that demand for housing related advice is now actually higher as a proportion of advice than it was before the pandemic.
The data also suggest demand for debt advice is close to pre-pandemic levels.
Meanwhile demand for advice around utilities – namely energy – is actually now higher than before the pandemic, representing over 5 per cent of all advice now compared to 3.3% before the pandemic.
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.
“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.”