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CAB - Housing debate must look beyond challenge of home ownership

Three people every minute are turning to Citizens Advice with a housing problem, new figures from the national charity reveal today.

In its new report Dispatches from the front lines of the housing crisis the charity presents a snapshot of local housing challenges from across England and Wales.  It also argues that there needs to be a wider debate about the housing challenges facing the nation.

The research identified a number of challenges including:

  • People being driven out of towns in Pembrokeshire by poor housing standards and antisocial behaviour, but struggling with the higher costs of rural living.

  • Post-war New Town planning decisions in Crawley resulting in not enough small homes for young people or those wanting to downsize.

  • Homeowners in County Durham struggling to keep up mortgage payments and meet the costs of looking after their home.

  • Young seasonal workers in Blackpool trapped renting in crumbling bed and breakfasts, whilst owners are unable to sell.

  • People in Conwy, Enfield and Dorchester doing battle with spiralling private rents, up-front costs of moving and sub-standard homes rented out by private landlords.

  • The impact of the growing student population in Exeter has on the local infrastructure.​

Last year Citizens Advice helped people with over 430,000 housing issues, up four per cent on the previous year. Debt issues due to private rental arrears were also up by eight per cent to over 27,000.

The national charity is calling for a housing debate which looks beyond getting people onto the property ladder, involving everyone from local councils to builders, MPs and landlords.

Gillian Guy, Chief Executive of national Citizens Advice said:

"People's housing challenges vary by where they live. Across the country too many people are living in homes that don't meet their needs - from private renters in a damp property or homeowners who can't afford to move.  Housing is one of the top issues people turn to Citizens Advice for help with, but within this we see a huge range of different problems.

“We need a broad-ranging debate about the different housing challenges facing the nation, one that moves beyond just trying to get people onto the property ladder. The new Government has the opportunity now to look at housing problems in the round and consider how best address the range  of challenges faced by renters and homeowners alike.

The new report brings together research by eight local Citizens Advice across England and Wales, presenting what is behind housing problems in their area. It finds that local housing markets, and associated challenges, are shaped by the histories, geographies and economies of places.

Notes to editors

  1. The Citizens Advice service comprises a network of local Citizens Advice, all of which are independent charities, the Citizens Advice consumer service and national charity Citizens Advice. Together we help people resolve their money, legal and other problems by providing information and advice and by influencing policymakers. For more see the Citizens Advice website.
  2. The advice provided by the Citizens Advice service is free, independent, confidential, and impartial, and available to everyone regardless of race, gender, disability, sexual orientation, religion, age or nationality.
  3. To get advice online or find your local bureau in England and Wales, visit citizensadvice.org.uk
  4. You can get consumer advice from the Citizens Advice consumer service on 03454 04 05 06 or 03454 04 05 05 for Welsh language speakers.
  5. Local Citizens Advice in England and Wales advised 2.5 million clients on 6.2 million problems in 2014/15. For full 2013/2014 service statistics see our publication Advice trends.
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