RENTERS in Scotland spend almost a quarter of their income on housing costs, the latest official statistics show.
Social rented households in Scotland spent an average of 24% of their net income on housing costs between 2013/14 and 2015/16, according to the Social Tenants in Scotland report.
This compares to 25% for private renters, 9% for owners with a mortgage and 3% for those who own their home outright.
The report found just under a third (32%) of social rented households in Scotland spent more than 30% of their net income on housing costs over the same period, lower than the equivalent figures of 50% in England and 46% in Wales.
The average weekly rent for social housing in Scotland was £74.44 in 2016/17, up 2.1% on the previous year.
Housing association rents averaged £80.28 a week, 16% higher than local authority rents of £69.20.
An estimated 1.17 million people lived in social rented homes, including housing associations and local authority housing, in 2016.
There were 594,458 units of socially rented homes in 2016, a 0.1% drop of 594 from the previous year.
Scotland had a higher proportion of these homes at 23% compared to England (17%), and Wales (16%) in 2016.
The number of social rented housing lets fell slightly in 2016/17 to 52,924 a drop of 1,108 (2%) on the previous year.
Local authority properties were empty for an average of 36 days before being re-let in 2016/17, while the average for housing associations was 26.8 days.
Housing Minister Kevin Stewart said ensuring access to good quality, warm and affordable homes was a priority for the government.
He said: “Social housing in Scotland continues to be more affordable than England or Wales, which is vital at a time when UK Government welfare cuts are having a devastating impact on people across the country.
“We are increasing funding for discretionary housing payments – which significantly benefit those living in the social housing sector – by 5%, to over £60 million in 2018/19.
“That will enable us to continue mitigating the bedroom tax, and provide a lifeline for those who need extra help.”
He said the government had delivered nearly 71,000 affordable homes since 2007, with around 70% for social rent, and plan to provide 50,000 more, including 35,000 for social rent by 2021.