Fringe meeting of the Labour Party conference with Anne Begg MP, Chair of the Work and Pensions Select Committee, Mary Mulligan MSP, Shadow Minister for Housing, Shelter Scotland director, Graeme Brown and Chartered Institute of Housing director, Alan Ferguson.
Friday 29th October at 12.30pm in the Studio Bar, Corran Halls, Oban
Cuts to housing benefit will have a devastating impact on more than 50,000 Scottish households and will be hitting hard some of the poorest and most vulnerable people in Scotland.
Anne Begg MP, Mary Mulligan MSP, Shelter Scotland director Graeme Brown and Alan Ferguson, director of CIH Scotland are set to lambast the UK Government on its housing benefits cuts at a high-profile fringe meeting on Friday [29th Oct] at the Labour Party conference in Oban.
Against the background of the vicious cuts and the disproportionate effect they are going to have on Scotland, Shelter Scotland says the SNP and Liberal Democrats – pushed by COSLA – are making it worse by supporting a wrecking amendment to next week’s final stage of the Housing Bill. This would undermine and attack measures designed to help people though this benefits cuts crisis.
The Access to Support amendment – unanimously supported at Stage 2 of the Bill just three weeks ago – strengthens the way in which local councils support families who are at risk of homelessness, the numbers of which are expected to increase. It gives councils a duty to assess the needs of homeless people it thinks may need support and to provide the services required.
Graeme Brown, director of Shelter Scotland, the housing and homelessness charity, says:
“Of the 51,000 households affected in Scotland almost all (97%) will lose out. On average they will lose £10 a week. In total almost £26 million less in Local Housing Allowance will be paid in Scotland each year.
“The cuts are an attack on the most vulnerable in our society by the coalition Government.
“Our fear is that many people will not be able to cope and will be pushed over the edge into a spiral of debt, eviction and homelessness.
“It beggars belief, therefore, that the Scottish Government is considering a ‘wrecking amendment’ during Stage 3 of the Housing Bill next Wednesday which would strike out Mary Mulligan’s Access to Support amendment which was unanimously passed earlier this month. Just when they have the opportunity to help their fellow citizens in Scotland, they turn their back on them.
“The new amendment is based on incompetent and inaccurate estimates of cost which aims to frighten ministers into backing it by saying it is unaffordable. The fact is the cost of implementing Access to Support would be more than offset by the reduction in repeat homelessness which the legislation aims to tackle.
“We urge ministers to vote against this spineless amendment and act to protect the rights of homeless people in Scotland.”
Alan Ferguson, Director of CIH Scotland, said:
“CIH has expressed to the UK Government our disappointment that the housing benefit cuts announced in June have been poorly assessed, made in isolation and in advance of the wider welfare reform programme.
“As well as highlighting the impact of the changes already announced, we are also very keen to influence the nature of the longer term move towards a single “universal” benefit. Whilst this sounds like a welcome simplification of a complex system, we are anxious about how much money for housing costs will be included in the universal benefit, and about the implications of the entire benefit being paid directly to the individual.”
Notes to Editors:
1. Shelter Scotland, the housing and homelessness charity. Shelter Scotland believes that everyone should have a home. We help people find and keep a home. We campaign for decent housing for all.
2. Spokespeople are available for interview, telephone the media office on 0844 515 2442. An ISDN line number is available for broadcast interviews.
3. For more information about Shelter Scotland visit www.shelter.org.uk
4. Follow Shelter Scotland on Facebook – http://www.facebook.com/shelterinscotland
Twitter – http://twitter.com/shelterscotland
5. CIH Scotland makes representations to government and related agencies on behalf of housing professionals and provides a wide range of qualifications and training. Contact: David Bookbinder, Head of Policy and Public Affairs on 07950 684153.
Contact: Neil Baldwin, Nicola Baxter
Phone: 0844 515 2442