Poorest are Once Again Hit the Hardest
Published by SFHA for Scottish Federation Of Housing Associations in Housing and also in Central Government, Universal Credit
Responding to this afternoon’s Autumn Budget Statement, the Scottish Federation of Housing Associations (SFHA) has said that further cuts to welfare benefits will mean that the poorest people will be hit even harder.
The Chancellor today announced that several benefits will rise below inflation, with many working age benefits rising by 1% in April.
SFHA Chief Executive Dr Mary Taylor said:
"Restricting the uprating of many working age benefits to lower than the rate of inflation to just 1% is the latest of a series of welfare cuts which will be a further blow that hits the poorest and most vulnerable in our communities the hardest. The true extent of the impact will not be felt for some time, but the risk of rising debt and arrears is all too real.
“Although it appears that housing benefit for tenants of social housing has not been affected by the limit on increases of 1%, people on low incomes including housing association tenants will still be hit hard by the budget announcement and the forthcoming introduction of Universal Credit will merge all benefits together. A reduction in overall levels of benefit for working households at a time when prices are rising and jobs are scarce, will hit people and communities that are already struggling to make ends meet.
Regarding the £394 million which Scotland is to receive for building and infrastructure, the SFHA said that it would be urging the Scottish Government to invest in new affordable homes.
Dr Taylor continued:
“The SFHA will be calling on the Scottish Government to invest a large proportion of the extra £394 million new capital spending that is to come to Scotland under George Osborne’s announcement towards building new affordable homes – boosting the construction sector, getting people off housing waiting lists, improving health and education opportunities, and building and sustaining communities.
“The SFHA has a list of members with plans for approximately 1,000 houses that are currently unfunded but shovel ready for building new homes right now. The additional funds would be spent on exactly the priority that both UK and Scottish governments wish to see and would be welcomed by the construction industry.
“However welcome additional capital investment by the Scottish Government would be, the impending cuts to welfare by the UK government threaten the principal income stream for housing associations and cooperatives. We remain concerned that this will in turn undermine their ability to access funding. Consequently far fewer homes will be built.
“There is a fundamental contradiction at the heart of government policy.”
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- The SFHA was established in 1976 and has around 170 members providing affordable housing and wider community services in Scotland, as well as a further 200 commercial members. The SFHA is owned by its membership and exists to support the work of housing associations and co-operatives in Scotland by providing services, advice and good practice guidance.
- The SFHA is the voice of the principal builders and managers of new affordable housing for rent in Scotland. Housing Associations own and manage around 40% of the country’s affordable rented housing stock, over a quarter of a million homes across Scotland.
- Housing associations and co-operatives are not-for-profit bodies regulated by the Scottish Housing Regulator.