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Locked Out: Local Housing Allowance & affordability in the private rented sector in Scotland

In partnership with Zoopla, this briefing presents analysis on the proportion of properties in Scotland that were affordable for households receiving housing benefit. Crisis carried out an analysis of Zoopla property listings data covering all one, two and three-bedroom properties in Scotland listed on the website over a period of 12 months, from April 2022 to March 2023.  We also examined how much housing benefit rates fall short of average private rents in each local authority and region, and rents at the bottom third of the market.

Key findings

This analysis underlines the extent to which the freeze on housing benefit is tightening that pressure, by making it ever-more challenging for people on low incomes to access housing in the private rented sector.

We found that:

  • Across Scotland, despite an estimated 15% of renters in the private sector in Scotland needing support with housing costs, just 7% of 1–3 bedroom private rented sector properties listed on the property website Zoopla in 2022-23 were affordable to people who need housing benefit to help pay their rent.
  • The problem is being felt right across the country. There are 15 local authorities where fewer than 5% of 1-3 bedroom properties are affordable to people who need housing benefit to pay their rent.
  • Low-income renters are having to cover shortfalls of thousands of pounds a year at a time when inflation remains high and household bills continue to put a strain on people’s budgets. During 2022-23, households were paying, on average, an extra £629 for a one-bedroom property, £1,119 for a two-bedroom property, and £1,603 for a three-bedroom property over the course of the year.


Sims, R., Allard, M. (2023) Locked Out: Local Housing Allowance and affordability in the private rented sector in Scotland. London: Crisis.