Welfare reform having serious financial impact in Scotland, Work and Pensions Committee told
Published by SFHA for Scottish Federation Of Housing Associations in Housing and also in Central Government, Communities, Universal Credit
Welfare reforms are having a serious financial impact on social landlords in Scotland, the Scottish Federation of Housing Associations (SFHA) will tell a UK parliamentary committee today (Wednesday 4th December 2013).
The SFHA, which represents Scotland’s housing associations and co-operatives, is giving evidence to the Work and Pensions Committee on the impacts of welfare reform on the housing sector in Scotland.
The federation will express concerns about the impact of the government’s ‘under occupation restriction’ (or ‘bedroom tax’); the consequences of welfare reform for housing associations’ finances; concerns about: the move to Universal Credit; the end of housing benefit payments direct to landlords; claimant sanctions; and proposals for supporting vulnerable tenants.
Speaking ahead of the evidence session, David Ogilvie, Policy Manager at the Scottish Federation of Housing Associations, said:
“The UK government has to get welfare reform right. It also has to realise the pressure it is putting on social landlords in Scotland – who provide homes and services for thousands of people – as a result of changes to the benefits system which are causing widespread financial uncertainty in Scotland.
“Tenants are being penalised by policies such as the ‘bedroom tax’ and benefit sanctions for perceived mistakes, such as missing an appointment at the job centre. Almost every housing association we surveyed is expecting rent arrears to increase in 2013 as a result of welfare reforms (1).”
Mr Ogilvie concluded:
“We call on the UK government to recognise the severe impact on tenants and social landlords, who are having to use vital resources to provide substantial extra help and support to tenants. Mitigation measures such as proposed extra funding for Discretionary Housing Payments, while welcome, will not solve the problem of tenants being penalised for the lack of smaller homes for them to move to. That’s why the only solution is the repeal of the ‘bedroom tax,’ and a review of whether welfare reform generally is meeting its stated aim of a fairer, and less costly, system.”
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1. SFHA (February 2013), Preparing for Welfare Reform, p.6. Available at Available at http://www.sfha.co.uk/sfha/welfare-reform/welfare-reform-research-and-publications/menu-id-311.html (accessed 18th September 2013)
2. The SFHA was established in 1976 and has around 119 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. www.sfha.co.uk
3. 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.
4. Housing associations and co-operatives are not-for-profit bodies regulated by the Scottish Housing Regulator.