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House prices make young Scots feel like failures

Young Scots who are unable to buy their own home often feel like they have failed in life, according to Citizens Advice Scotland.

The Bank of Scotland has today (Wednesday) published figures showing that house prices in Scotland are more than three times the average salary.

Responding, Citizens Advice Scotland’s Head of Policy, Susan McPhee, says,

“Many of the people we see at the CAB are really struggling just to pay their bills, or drowning in huge debts. These sorts of prices make it simply impossible for such people to even think about buying a home.

"This is particularly difficult for young people, who haven't had time to save and who are worried about their long-term employment prospects. Many of the young Scots we have spoken to have told us they are deeply frustrated and depressed at this situation, and that it is affecting their whole life.

“They’ve been brought up to believe that buying your own home is an essential part of life, and is a basic measure of your success. It's just what you are supposed to do when you grow up. So when they find they are in their 20s or 30s or even getting into their 40s and they still can't afford to buy a home, that affects not just their financial position but their state of mind as well. They feel as though they have failed. And this impacts on their whole outlook on life, including their health and relationships as well as their finances.

“Its very important that we get the message out to people that help and advice is available. No matter how old you are or what your situation is, the CAB offers free, independent and confidential money advice to anyone who needs it.”

Notes to editors:

This press release is a response to one issued by the Bank of Scotland. Theirs is embargoed for 00.01 on Wednesday 30 May, so we are observing the same embargo.

Last year CAS undertook a survey of young Scots, aged 16-24. It found that high house prices and the lack of affordable rented homes meant that growing numbers of young people are being forced to stay at home with their parents. This delays their move to independent living or forces them into the private rented sector, or to homelessness.
An excerpt from that report is given here:

The last twenty years has seen a shift in young peoples’ housing tenures from owner occupier and social rented housing to private rented housing. As affordable lending continues to be unavailable and social housing remains at a low level, this trend is likely to continue into the foreseeable future.

  • The majority of young people in our survey, and 4 in 10 Scottish CAB clients under the age of 25, live with their family. Many of these young people were over the age of 21 and in employment. It is likely that the recession will increase the number of young people who are unable to afford to live independently.
  • The collapse in mortgage lending, coupled with high house prices and competition with the buy-to-rent sector, ensures that first-time buyers continue to struggle at the foot of the housing ladder.
  • The private rented sector has become the default sector for most young people. Priced out of owner occupier housing, and unable to access social housing, many are only able to access private rented housing. However, due to competition for tenancies, private rents are rising and national evidence shows that young people living in the private rented sector have higher average housing costs than young people in all other tenures.
  • Almost a third of homeless applications made in Scotland are made by a single person under the age of 25. The number of single young people assessed as priority homeless increased by 20% between 2007 and 2009. This increase was mostly driven by a 40% increase in single 18-24 year olds being assessed as priority homeless.

For more information, or to arrange interviews with CAS, please contact Tony Hutson on 07774 751655.