Publication - Research and analysis

Rent affordability in the affordable housing sector: literature review

Published: 17 Jun 2019
Housing and Social Justice Directorate
Part of:

Information on definitions and measures of social rent affordability, the relationship between housing and poverty, rents in the affordable housing sector, the role of the mid-market rent sector and policies with an impact on rent affordability.

79 page PDF

1.1 MB

79 page PDF

1.1 MB

Rent affordability in the affordable housing sector: literature review

79 page PDF

1.1 MB


1 For more information:

2 Shelter England blog on August 10, 2015 by John Bibby, “What is ‘affordable housing’?”.


4 For the consultation paper of “Rethinking Affordability” published by SFHA in 2014, see

5 For more information on SFHA approach on affordability:

6 The National Housing Federation is “A professional body that represents the interests of housing associations and other registered social landlords in England, which are responsible for providing the vast majority of new social housing units” (Chaplin and Freeman 1999, p. 1953).

7 The unequivalised income does not take account of the number of people living in the household.


9 This is a satisfactory, but not exhaustive, list of rent affordability measures in the literature.

10 “Housing Benefit is a personal subsidy which enables non-working households and those on low income to pay for rented accommodation” (Wilson and Barton 2018, p. 28). The Housing Benefit scheme in the UK intends to protect households’ incomes after housing costs, protect poor private renting households from rent deregulation, and protect the income stream of landlords (Stephens et al. 2015).

11 For more information, see Foster J.E., Greer J., Thorbecke E., 1984, A class of decomposable poverty measures, Econometrica, 52, pp. 761-766.

12 The unequivalised income does not take account of the number of people living in the household. Equivalised income values are adjusted depending on the number of people in the house to reflect the notion that larger households require higher incomes (CAD 2019).

13 This is the Minimum Income Standard (MIS) calculated by JRF for a single working person household excluding rent, council tax, water charges, household insurance, gas, electricity and other bills, household services and other housing costs.


15 Among others: CAD 2019; Scottish Housing and Regeneration Outcome Indicators Framework.

16 CAD is the Communities Analysis Division of the Scottish Government.

17, p. 2

18 The paper questionnaire was distributed to just under 20,000 Flagship tenants, including social rent, affordable rent, market rent and shared ownership customers. An online version of the survey was also available. In total there were 2,628 valid responses to the survey: 2,570 paper and 58 online. “Analysis confirmed the respondents to the survey were largely representative of Flagship’s customer base. However, minor adjustment weights were used in the analysis to correct for biases in relation to property type and the age of respondents” (Green et al. 2016, p. 4).

19 Bramley (2012) used questions derived from UK poverty research including Townsend (1979) and the Millennium Poverty (PSE) Survey studies.

20 Definition retrieved from Absolute poverty refers to the UK median in 2010/11, therefore the absolute poverty threshold is fixed, whereas relative poverty thresholds change every year along with household incomes.

21 For the data access this Excel file:

22 Poor housing conditions are defined as overcrowded, not weather tight, structurally unsafe, damp, cold, infested and/or lacking in modern facilities.

23 Shelter Scotland blog on March 29, 2018 by Jessica Husbands, “The uncomfortable truth: unaffordable housing is pushing an extra 50,000 children into poverty”.

24 MMR initiatives are mainly located in Aberdeen, Dundee, Glasgow and Edinburgh (Young and Donohoe 2018).

25 Other studies define the intermediate housing sector as a form of shared ownership, commonly used in England (Wilcox 2005).



28 Housing benefit for tenants in the private rented sector is called Local Housing Allowance (LHA). The rate of LHA depends on the location and size of the rented property.

29 A similar trend was observed in 2017 in Scotland for social rented dwellings: 50% had two bedrooms, 26% one bedroom and 21% three bedrooms (CAD 2019, p. 22). The UK offers small accommodation by floor area compared to the rest of Europe, especially when new-builds are taken into account (Morgan and Cruickshank 2014).

30 The latest publication on social housing from the Scottish Government was published in April 2019.

31 Consumer Price Index (CPI).

32, Tables 702 and 704.

33 See Ochil View Rent and Service Charge Policy document here:

34 See Berwickshire Housing Rent and Service Charge Policy document here:

35 See Notting Hill Genesis housing association Rent and Service Charge Policy document here:

36 The report can be accessed here:

37 For the full report:

38 The Scottish Housing Regulator made a series of recommendations to social landlords after the results of the 2016 survey were published and in particular they stressed the importance of consulting with the tenants:

39 For more information on the devolved and reserved matters, see

40 For an update on the programme see

41 Information retrieved from:

42 StatXplore and DWP Benefit Cap Statistics 7 February 2019:


44 Shelter Scotland blog:

45 For the CIH research findings, see here:

46 For more information:

47 Scottish Housing regulation, 2012, “Regulation of Social Housing in Scotland” (p. 4)

48 For a 2019 report on Policy statement on rents for social housing, see:

49 Access the ESRC evidence briefing on “ Rents in social housing: the trade-offs” here:

50 Public Policy Institute for Wales (PPIW), 2015, Future need and Demand for Housing in Wales, Cardiff, PPIW.

51 “In each survey year, 2,600 randomly selected Housing Executive tenants take part in the face-to-face interviews, which is equivalent to 650 tenants each quarter” (Young et al. 2017, p. 80).