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Social housing tenants depend on money from friends, family and neighbours to make ends meet

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Two-thirds of social housing tenants interviewed for a recent study needed financial help from friends, family and neighbours to make ends meet, often because of benefits cuts, research from LSE has shown.

Eileen Alexander interviewed 200 social housing tenants in 2013 and 2014 and found that that 64% of those interviewed had needed informal financial help over the previous 12 months to cover basic living costs.

“People described this informal support as crucial financial contributions towards household items, particularly rent, utilities and food,” said Ms Alexander, who is a PhD candidate in the Department of Social Policy.  

“People described support being provided by family members, but also by neighbours, friends and co-workers. The interviews also made evident that support flowed not just from the older generation to the younger, but as frequently financial support was provided by young adult children to their parents and grandparents."

Ms Alexander carried out the interviews in Plymouth, Torbay, Bristol, Bath and small villages in Wiltshire and Dorset. She found that most received a series of small payments of around £20 or £30, but that this support was crucial to their ability to cover their basic living costs because of fluctuating income, and in some cases cuts in benefits.

Ms Alexander found that that money from friends, family and neighbours was their most common source of emergency support. Overdrafts, bank loans, credit cards or pay day loans were each used by only a fifth or less of the interviewees in the previous year.


Eileen Alexander's research was presented at The British Sociological Association’s annual conference in Birminghamon Friday 8 April 2016.

Image: Terraced housing in UK  CC BY-SA 2.0

Posted 8 April 2016