Monday, 01 September 2014

Scottish benefit claimants to lose £80m

Low-income households in Scotland will lose more than £80 million in support because of the UK government’s housing benefit changes, a report has warned.

The Scottish Local Government Forum Against Poverty - a cross-party group of Scottish councils and umbrella body Rights Advice Scotland - believes the proposed changes will be ‘significantly detrimental to low-paid and unemployed tenants’ in Scotland.

Their report, Housing in Scotland – a crisis coming?, published last week, also calculates private renters will lose £25 million, as the benchmark for the standard of accommodation they are expected to rent is lowered.

It estimates Scotland’s under-35s will be £12.5 million worse off because of a reduction in benefit if they choose to rent and unemployed Scottish claimants will lose £3.4 million as their housing benefit is cut by 10 per cent after one year.

The two groups also believe the changes will have a significant impact on landlords’ resources.

Willie Hogg, chair of the SLGFAP, said: ‘These changes to housing benefit will have a severe impact on low-paid or fixed-income tenants with dire consequences for local authorities, housing associations and private landlords.

‘These cuts have the potential to create conflict within families and I fear that councils will be left to pick up the pieces not just in terms of increased demands for housing or homelessness services but also through increased need for social work, welfare advice and debt services.’

Richard Gass, Chair of Rights Advice Scotland, added: ‘The housing benefit changes will hit hard from April and Rights Advice Scotland is concerned that the cuts will unleash a new wave of enquiries from people needing help that will range from simple benefits advice to representation at tribunals.’

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