YOUNG people face "considerable challenges" navigating the housing market in Scotland with those on low and insecure incomes

vulnerable and at potential risk of homeless, a new report claims.

The Centre for Housing Research highlights the challenges facing people under 35 who are now living in the private rented sector (PRS) for

Loading article content

longer periods of their lives, a phenomenon they describe as Generation Rent.

The University of St Andrews-based centre contended that the PRS is unaffordable for many young people.

It said there was a "geography of (un)affordability across Scotland with problem 'hotspot' areas identified as Aberdeen, Edinburgh and St

Andrews.

The researchers said there are "few incentives" for landlords to keep their rent levels down due to high demand in certain locations.while

warning that the impact of UK government welfare reform has hit vulnerable people hard.

It said that while the Scottish Government's consultation on reform in the private rented sector was to "applauded" many of the difficulties

faced by Generation Rent stretched "far beyond housing" and that a broader context should be examined.

But the authors said that tensions within the current devolution settlement may however make this difficult for the Scottish Government to

achieve, given social security remains in the main a reserved power.

And it warns that while the Scottish Government is to get additional powers concerning housing related benefits under the Smith

Commission, efforts to buffer the impact of further austerity measures will be limited as the main levers of the social security system will

remain reserved to the UK Government.

It said that that means "many Scots will continue to face the same benefit caps and sanctions as those in other parts of the UK".

New figures show that tens of thousands of Scots struggling to cope with welfare cuts have been awarded a total value of £46 million in

Discretionary Housing Payments (DHPs), used to support Housing Benefit claimants at risk of poverty and/or losing their home.

Figures from Scotland's Chief Statistician reveal that local authorities received nearly 110,000 applications to the fund between April to

December 2014. Of those requests, 106,000 were processed and more than 101,000 were granted - with the average award being £456.

The Scottish Government has promised to fully mitigate the effect of the bedroom tax in Scotland, and pledged £35 million for 2015 and 2016 to help support affected households.

The CHR authors said: "Compared to their parent's generation, young people today are more likely to be unemployed or employed on low-

income, insecure and/or zero-hours contracts.

"This has a substantial impact on their ability to meet housing costs as they do not know from one month to the next if they will be able to

pay their rent.

"To avoid this, some turn to food banks, payday loan companies or live in fuel poverty in order to pay their rent.

"This situation has been compounded by the previous UK Coalition Government's welfare reforms and the increasing use of sanctioning

which restricts welfare recipients' money further. The reality of living on a low-income makes it even more difficult for young people to save

enough in order to realise their aspirations for home ownership, resulting in them becoming trapped in the PRS."

Report co-author Dr Kim McKee, director of the Centre for Housing Research University of St Andrews, said: The growth of the private rented

sector not only includes frustrated potential homeowners, but also young people who would previously have rented from a social landlord.

"This underlines the importance of continuing to invest in affordable housing. This includes traditional social rented housing as well as low-

cost homeownership and mid-market rent products.

"Young people are a diverse group with different needs. Policy solutions need to reflect this."

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: "We are doing all we can, within our devolved powers, to help young people secure a home that meets their needs...

"The supply of affordable housing is a key priority for this government. We are well on track to meeting our five year target to deliver 30,000 homes by 2016.

"We are also determined to ease housing pressures by continuing to explore innovative funding approaches that can help deliver more affordable homes .

"As this report highlights, the UK Government's proposed £12 billion benefit cuts will present real challenges for young people, searching for a home, across Scotland."