SFHA disappointed with Osborne's welfare cap confirmation
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George Osborne 'lacks judgement' to be Chancellor
The Scottish Federation of Housing Associations has said it is disappointed with the Chancellor's decision to consolidate a proposed cap on welfare in yesterday's budget.
George Osborne first mooted the cap in his 2013 autumn statement. Yesterday's announcement caps welfare spending in scope for the years 2015-16 to 2018-19.
The SFHA has said that the cap doesn't acknowledge that policies such as the controversial bedroom tax will “actually end up costing the public purse more”.
The group says this is partly because the under-occupancy policyit risks forcing social tenants into the private sector where rents are higher, and partly due to the extra costs for councils and housing associations.
The SFHA is now calling on the government to exclude housing benefit from the envelope of welfare benefits being capped.
Maureen Watson, the SFHA's head of policy, said: “The SFHA’s recently published research on the real cost of the ‘bedroom tax’ for Scottish housing associations and co-operatives estimates the total real cost over the first three years of the policy to be £79 million.
“Scotland’s housing associations and co-operatives provide affordable rented housing in communities across the country – a place to call home and a place to build a life. In the face of the evolving welfare reforms and the continuing cap on welfare spending, housing associations and co-operatives remain determined to ensure that every possible help is given to tenants to maintain their tenancies and to keep rents affordable. However, the environment for tenants and housing providers is becoming increasingly challenging and costly.
“The SFHA will continue to press the UK Government to repeal the ‘bedroom tax’ that is still very much with us. It is an incompetent and unfair policy.
“We are also disappointed to see that the opportunity has yet to be taken by either the Chancellor of the Exchequer or the Secretary of State for Scotland to respond to the Scottish Government's request for consent to raise the cap on Discretionary Housing Payments. Scotland's housing associations and their tenants are keen to see the additional monies identified by the Scottish Government for ‘bedroom tax’ mitigation, but we need the uncertainty removed. We should have had arrangements in place by now. We are only days away from the start of the new financial year.”