Scottish landlord to test direct payments
A Scottish landlord will take part in a pilot project to test the direct payment of housing benefit to tenants, it has been announced.
Edinburgh-based Dunedin Canmore Group, which owns 4,500 properties, will test direct payment in a project starting in July.
The Department for Work and Pensions announced four pilot projects in England and one in Wales in January and always intended for there to be a project in Scotland as well.
Inside Housing understands political negotiations led to the announcement of the Scottish project being delayed.
The pilot projects were launched in response to fears that direct payment will increase arrears and threaten social landlords’ income streams, potentially affecting their ability to borrow.
The projects will look at the circumstances under which a tenant is ready for direct payment, how much support tenants need to manage their finances and measures to safeguard income streams.
Graeme Russell, housing services director at DCG, said tenants taking responsibility for their rent payments will foster a strong sense of citizenship.
He said: ‘We can drive change and help bring about a culture change. We believe it is important to encourage financial independence and responsibility.’
Lord David Freud, minister for welfare reform, said: ‘Direct benefit payments are essential for Universal Credit so families can break cycles of welfare dependency and can move smoothly from monthly benefit payments to monthly pay packets.’
The Scottish project will start in July and demonstration projects in England and Wales will take place from June 2012 until June 2013.