William Eichler 22 May 2017

Social tenants face multi-million pound rent gap from benefit reform

Social tenants face multi-million pound rent gap from benefit reform image

Thousands of young people in Scotland could face a £22.6m rent gap from planned housing benefit reforms, research reveals.

An estimated 21,000 social tenants across Scotland aged under 35 could be adversely affected by UK Government plans to cap housing benefit for social housing tenants from April 2019.

According to an interim report on the impact of the Local Housing Allowance (LHA) cap on young people in Scotland, commissioned by the Scottish government, these young tenants could collectively face a rent affordability gap of up to £22.6m annually.

The Government proposes to bring payments for social housing tenants in line with those living in the private rented sector.

Legislation to implement these proposals has yet to be introduced. However, as they currently stand, single people under 35 years of age will see their allowance capped at the Shared Accommodation Rate (SAR).

The Chartered Institute of Housing in Scotland, the think tank that carried out the research, found comparing DWP claimant data on average awards received by young Housing Benefit claimants with the SAR produces an annual estimated rent gap across Scotland of £22.8m.

Housing Association rents are typically higher than local authorities and so will be affected more by the proposed LHA cap.

Commenting on the findings of the interim report, CIH Scotland executive director Annie Mauger said: ‘Identifying how we might mitigate against the negative impact of the LHA cap on younger social tenants is an ongoing work in progress and a final report will be published at the end of July.

‘But this interim report clearly shows the potential scale of the problem across Scotland.

‘The intention behind this report is to be able to show exactly how social tenants aged under 35 will be affected and hopefully to exert some additional pressure on the UK Government to change its plans before they are due to enter into force in April 2019.’

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