Shelter Scotland response to UK Budget announcements on housing benefit and Support for Mortgage Interest

In response to today’s budget announcements on housing benefit, Gordon MacRae, Head of Communications and Policy, Shelter Scotland, the housing and homelessness charity, said:

“Shelter Scotland has been calling for housing benefit reform for some years. This debate needs to be about giving people a hand up when they are struggling. It should not be about the small number of extreme examples where large families end up in expensive private accommodation because there is not enough social housing to meet their needs. (1)

“Seven out of eight people receiving housing benefit have a job. This shows that housing in the UK whether in the private or social sector is still too expensive for many hardworking families. (2)

“This is at a time when nearly half of LHA claimants (3) are already making up a shortfall of almost £100 a month to meet their rent. By ripping out this support from under their feet it will push many households over the edge, triggering a spiral of debt, eviction and homelessness.

“If we are to reduce the housing benefit bill in the long term we must continue to build more affordable housing.”

Notes to editors

1. £104,000 is the current rate for a 5 bedroom property in Central London BRMA. An example of the households eligible for this amount would be a family of two adults living with an elderly relative and six children under the age of 16 (if paired with same sex over 10).

2. Survey of English Housing 2007/08

3. Parliamentary question 5 March 2010: http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200910/cmhansrd/cm100305/text/100305w0002.htm#10030529000282

 

In response to today’s budget announcement that Support for Mortgage Interest (SMI) will be paid at the same rate as the Bank of England monthly rate, Gordon MacRae, Head of Communications and Policy, Shelter Scotland, the housing and homelessness charity, said:

“This is not good news for those struggling homeowners who are just about managing to keep a roof over their head thanks to the support they are getting through SMI, not to mention the thousands of homeowners who will potentially need help in the coming months.

“Support for Mortgage Interest has been one of the key schemes in helping hold back the rising tide of repossessions. But the reality is that most people on SMI are on higher than average interest rates, so there is a real danger it will no longer help the people who need it most and could trigger a surge in repossessions.

“Introducing a system where rates will change monthly will create additional uncertainty for thousands of people already struggling day to day. The only solution is to ensure that SMI is paid at the rate of interest that people are currently being charged.”

 

Contact: Nicola Baxter
Phone: 0844 515 2442

Website: http://www.shelter.org.uk