Thursday, 23 October 2014

SFHA: Benefit bill due to lack of social homes

The growing housing benefit bill is due to a shortage of social rented housing and increased subsidies for expensive private sector rents, new research from the Scottish Federation of Housing Associations has found.

A report published by the SFHA today showed in the past 10 years the cost of housing benefit spent on private tenants across the UK has increased 153 per cent, compared to a 21 per cent increase for council and housing association tenants.

In 2011/12, 40 per cent of the entire spend on housing benefit went to tenants of private landlords, despite the fact that two-thirds of the entire caseload is made up of social tenants, the report found.

In Scotland in the last five years, housing benefit expenditure increased by 76 per cent for private tenants, compared to just a 10 per cent increase for tenants renting from councils or housing associations. The findings were drawn from official statistics from government departments.

The SFHA has accused the government of stigmatising tenants in the social housing sector, and called for both the UK and Scottish governments to work together to maximise investing in new affordable homes for rent.

Mary Taylor, chief executive of the SFHA, said: ‘Our research reveals that not only are social housing tenants being blamed, erroneously, for causing a huge increase in the housing benefit bill, but it also reveals that investing in more new build affordable housing is the most financially attractive option for the government to help provide the affordable housing that people so badly need.’

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