Austerity hits housing benefit
7 Jan 2020 12:31 PM
UK welfare cuts leave families struggling to pay rent.
A total of 3,320 families in Scotland claiming help with housing costs are £64 a week worse off because of UK welfare cuts.
The third annual report of Welfare Reform found that about 460,000 working age households have been affected by a £300 million cut in welfare spending in Scotland by the UK Government.
Since the roll-out of Universal Credit, rent arrears in Scotland have increased and as of March 2019, arrears on all council properties was £74 million, up £9 million on the previous year.
The Scottish Government has spent more than £63 million on discretionary housing payments to top up benefit shortfalls and help people pay their rent so they don’t run up arrears.
Housing Minister Kevin Stewart yesterday said:
“UK Government welfare cuts are squeezing more families into poverty and leaving them struggling to afford appropriate accommodation.
“As the private rental market becomes increasingly less accessible to those on low income, cutting housing benefit by £64 per week for some families puts them at risk of homelessness. The UK Government must act urgently to reverse these cuts and support those renting in the private sector.
“It is not feasible for the Scottish Government to completely mitigate the impacts of UK cuts but we will do all we can to support families through the Scottish Welfare Fund and discretionary housing payments and by protecting people against the Bedroom Tax. We could do so much more to help lift families out of poverty if Scotland had full control of welfare policy.”
Housing and Social Security: Follow-up paper on Welfare Reform