A new report has warned that the government’s changes to Housing Benefit will have serious consequences for tenants across Scotland, reports Ed Jacobs.
A new report has warned that the government’s changes to Housing Benefit will have serious consequences for tenants across Scotland. In their study, ‘Housing in Scotland: A Crisis Coming?‘, the Scottish Local Government Forum Against Poverty and Rights Advice Scotland explain (page 4):
“The UK Government’s deficit reduction plans will see housing benefit recipients and the Scottish economy lose approximately £80 million per year by 2013.
“The Scottish Local Government Forum Against Poverty and Rights Advice Scotland is concerned that the UK Government is again bringing forward and implementing proposals without carrying out detailed impact assessments.
“Such impact assessments should be published prior to decisions being made and legislation passed.”
The report concludes that as a result of the changes already being implemented and those continuing to be introduced over the next two years (page 4) the effect of the changes to Scotland will be:
• £25 million lost as a result of people being forced into the cheapest accommodation as a result of changes in the standard of houses they are able to rent;
• £20.1 million lost as a result of the decision to peg Housing Benefit increases to CPI rather than RPI;
• £17.1 million lost due to the removal of the £15 top-up for those in the cheapest accommodation;
• £12.5 million lost by under-35s as a result of a reduction in benefit if they choose to rent their own home;
• £3.4 million lost to unemployed claimants as their housing benefit is cut by 10% after one year.
Publishing the report, Councillor Willie Hogg, chair of the Scottish Local Government Forum Against Poverty, said:
“The Forum Against Poverty is deeply concerned that once again the UK Government is implementing policies without understanding the real impact of its choices. 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.
“Right now Scotland’s councils are having to make tough choices about their budgets for next year. It is imperative that they are fully aware of the impending crisis that could engulf them as a result of these changes.”
Shadow Scottish secretary Ann Mckchin, meanwhile, pledged to continuing fighting the Tory-led government’s changes to Housing Benefit:
“This is just one example of cruel cuts this Tory-led Government will force on the Scottish people.”
The report came the day that a short debate was held in Westminster Hall in on the impact of the Housing Benefit changes to Scotland. In initiating the debate, Labour MP for Cumbernauld, Kilsyth and Kirkintilloch East, Gregg McClymont, explained:
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“According to the Department’s impact assessment, 55,000 households in Scotland will be worse off this year as a result of the Government’s choices on housing benefit. I have been speaking to community groups, local government, housing associations and charities in my constituency.
“They are deeply concerned about the impact of the Government’s choices on some of the most vulnerable members of our community.
“As a result of just some of the changes, £2.2 million will be taken out of the pockets of people claiming housing benefits in north Lanarkshire alone every year, and 75% of social tenants claiming housing benefit will lose out in north Lanarkshire.”