Where are the families with children in the PRS?

23 Dec

Analysis of Scottish Census lets us see where the families with children in Private Rented Sector (PRS) actually live

Given the growing number of families with children in PRS and the importance placed on this group by Scottish Government I thought it would be useful explain and summarise the latest data from Census.  The relevant detailed information was only finally published in November 2014 Census Release 3k

I began by mapping this data to provide a definitive guide to where and in what numbers families with children in the PRS actually live.  http://j.mp/PRSfamilies

Showing households with children in the PRS

The clear message is that families with children in the PRS are evenly distributed across every socio-economic group in Scotland from the most expensive house in Heriot Row to the most affordable flat in Govan.

Those families in the PRS that are vulnerable are thankfully relatively small in number and can be helped with more targeted initiatives than with crude broad brush changes to the entire lettings sector.  Radical tenancy reform has the potential to stifle the improvement of, investment in and expansion of the PRS.

Tenure All households Households with dependent children
All households: 2,372,777                                     616,489
Owned: 1,470,986                                     379,305
Social rented: 576,419                                     154,127
Private rented or living rent free: 325,372                                       83,057


In summary the numbers of families with dependent children living in PRS is:  83,057 which represents 13.5% of all households with dependent children in Scotland.

Of these 36,741 are lone parent households, 41,393 are couples, and 4,923 are other households. Looking at couples with dependent children in PRS the map shows a very broad geographic spread – with PRS families well represented in the least as well as the most deprived areas.

PRS household total (325,372) includes 30,000 or so households living rent free. This total represents 13.7% of all Scottish households (2,372,777)

It is true families with dependent children in PRS represent just over 1 in 4 (25.5%) of all households in PRS.  Many commentators emphasise that this number has doubled but this is only because the total size of PRS has doubled. Analysis of 2001 Census data tells us there were 41,400 PRS households with dependent children out of a total PRS household population of 175,354 (23.6%).

The current proportion of families with dependent children in PRS is barely different from the owner occupied sector where 25.8% of households have dependent children or the social rented sector where the figure is 26.7%.

Analysing where these PRS households live in terms of the local area deprivation ranking is helpful to understand how many households may be particularly deprived.  More on deprivation here:   http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Topics/Statistics/SIMD

All you really need to know is that 1 is most deprived and 10 is least deprived.  And if we profile households in PRS by deprivation decile (ten population weighted categories) we see that most are in the middle – though interestingly there are more in the least deprived (10) than there are in most deprived (1)



If we look at deprivation profile of all PRS households with dependent children we see a flat distribution – still with more in middle but slightly fewer in the least deprived categories than the most deprived.



These profiles bears no resemblance to the grim picture of the PRS so often painted by lobbyists, politicians and the media. It is evidently not a poverty stricken tenure of last resort but more a fully dispersed and integrated housing option for all.

Key Messages:

  • PRS is not a single amorphous market but many disparate markets and any policy intervention needs to recognise this
  • In 2011 PRS families with dependent children make up 25.5% of all PRS households
  • In 2001 PRS families with dependent children make up 23.6% of all PRS households
  • More PRS households in the least deprived decile (27,806) than the most deprived decile (25,051)
  • Families with dependent children in PRS represent 3.5% of all Scottish households
  • There are PRS houses families with children in every type of neighbourhood
  • The highest local level concentrations of families with dependent children in PRS are actually found in military services housing.


Article contributed by Dan Cookson, Head of Research, at Lettingstats, part of Lettingweb. This article was created from the Lettingstats Autumn 2014 Private Rental Sector Report, published in December 2014.