Published on 20/03/2024
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  • The University worked with Birmingham City Council on the project
  • It aims to help prevent tenancy loss as a result of harmful gambling
  • Recommendations include creating a regional harmful gambling strategy board.

The Centre for Personal Financial Wellbeing at Aston University has completed a two-year project with Birmingham City Council (BCC) exploring in depth the connections between harmful gambling and tenancy security – the first study of its kind in the UK.

It found evidence that problem gamblers are twice as likely (4 in 10 are likely to be rent arears) to be in significant rent arrears than other BCC tenants who gamble (at 2 in 10), but that harmful gambling is a hidden and stigmatised issue and one which tenants are unlikely to disclose to their landlord. 

80% of those experiencing the effects of harmful gambling say that they have had to borrow money to meet their basic living expenses in the last 2 years (compared to 50% of others who say they are occasional gamblers).  More than a third (37%) of problem gamblers said they had had to use payday loans or loan sharks to fund their living costs including rent. This creates significant increased risk this behaviour will directly contribute to them losing their homes.

This behaviour was shown not just to affect not just the gambler. A third of ‘affected others’ (31%) say that gambling behaviour in their household had directly led to them not being able to pay their rent. 

BCC had identified harmful gambling behaviours as a key and growing factor in tenancy loss. They wished to understand these further and enact any specific changes in their procedures and processes that may help reduce the risk of tenancy loss related to harmful gambling behaviours.

The aim of the project was to support the Council in the development of further strategies they, and other housing providers, can adopt to help reduce tenancy loss due to harmful gambling. It was also aiming to enhance their understanding of the impact of harmful gambling practices in the lives of their tenant population and those affected others who may inhabit one of their properties, with particular focus on the key financial decisions they make.

The end report’s recommendations include increasing the collaboration with local support agencies, establishing specific regional strategies to complement national work in this area, providing enhanced training for staff and also for tenants, integrating harmful gambling reporting more fully into housing management systems and creating clear support referral pathways. 

It also highlights the need for cross-sector collaboration and ongoing evaluation of interventions. By mapping interventions against the Council tenant journey, the report offers a framework for monitoring and improving harmful gambling support strategies.

Professor Andy Lymer, director of the Centre for Personal Financial Wellbeing at Aston University who undertook this work with BCC, said:

“The overarching aims of this project were about helping BCC to better understand the effects of harmful gambling experienced by their tenants and putting in place improvements to systems to support and help prevent tenancy loss as a result of harmful gambling. Consequently, the data and analysis in this report is very much focused on the experiences and views of the Authority’s tenants. 

“However, many of the internal recommendations would be equally applicable to other landlord councils or  social housing providers who might face similar organisational challenges, and also critically the same issues around hidden and stigmatised harmful gambling behaviours and barriers to tenants seeking support. 

“Beyond social housing providers, this project also illustrates how other agencies like support charities and community groups can work collaboratively with councils to address the complex challenge of managing the effects of harmful gambling which overlaps with areas of health, wellbeing and financial inclusion.” 

 Dr Halima Sacranie, the Centre’s leading researcher on the project, said:

“It is critical to develop a relationship with a local support agency, like Aquarius in Birmingham’s case as their local provider, to work collaboratively around awareness, gambling training, and a clear referral pathway for support. 

“We propose a traffic light system to gauge risk levels and match interventions accordingly, such as awareness campaigns and support services. 

“We've outlined a framework for Birmingham City Council to enhance and evaluate these interventions, suggesting key performance indicators for monitoring progress. This includes a tailored strategy, mapping interventions onto the Council tenant journey to create a cohesive system of awareness and support."

This work is ongoing, and lessons learned are also now being rolled out to other councils and social housing providers. The University team welcomes approaches by anyone who would like to discuss this work further. 

To read the full report, click here.
 

Notes to Editors

About the Centre for Personal Financial Wellbeing at Aston University

The Centre for Personal Financial Wellbeing at Aston University is an interdisciplinary, academic, research centre that seeks to get to the heart of the causes and consequences of personal and household financial insecurity.

It focuses on providing accessible and timely insights to support a wide range of leaders and decision makers including those in the financial service industry, third sector organisations, academics as well as the general public.

For more information, click here.

About Aston University

For over a century, Aston University’s enduring purpose has been to make our world a better place through education, research and innovation, by enabling our students to succeed in work and life, and by supporting our communities to thrive economically, socially and culturally.

Aston University’s history has been intertwined with the history of Birmingham, a remarkable city that once was the heartland of the Industrial Revolution and the manufacturing powerhouse of the world.

Born out of the First Industrial Revolution, Aston University has a proud and distinct heritage dating back to our formation as the School of Metallurgy in 1875, the first UK College of Technology in 1951, gaining university status by Royal Charter in 1966, and becoming The Guardian University of the Year in 2020.

Building on our outstanding past, we are now defining our place and role in the Fourth Industrial Revolution (and beyond) within a rapidly changing world.

For media inquiries in relation to this release, contact Sam Cook, Press and Communications Manager, on (+44) 7446 910063 or email: s.cook2@aston.ac.uk

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