Scottish landlords issue warning over welfare cuts
The UK government’s changes to welfare payments will put at risk efforts to improve social housing and build new affordable homes, housing representatives in Scotland will say today.
The Scottish Federation of Housing Associations, which is due to appear at today’s meeting of the Scottish Government’s finance committee, said changes to housing benefit could cost Scottish households at least £220 million by 2016/17.
The SFHA will tell the committee that more than two-thirds of working-age households in housing association and co-operative tenancies in Scotland rely on housing benefit to pay all or some of their rent, and the cost of collecting rent will rise as the reforms come into effect.
Mary Taylor, chief executive of the SFHA, said: ‘Not only will the changes make life harder for tenants, they will also put at risk rental income for housing associations and co-operatives, affecting their ability to provide good quality housing and services. Tenants will also need additional support, to try to prevent rent arrears getting out of control. The implications for housing providers are massive.
‘What’s more, the risk to rental income will impact on our sector’s ability to repair and improve existing homes and to repay loans already taken out to build much-needed affordable homes, as well as making it harder to raise finance to build new homes. This is at a time when there are 335,000 households on Scottish housing association and co-operative waiting lists.’
Welfare reform is not devolved to Scotland, but the Scottish Government introduced the Welfare Reform (Further Provision) (Scotland) Bill in March this year to ‘mitigate, as far as possible’ the impact of the UK government’s Welfare Reform Act.