An idea put forward this week by the Prime Minister to scrap Housing Benefit for under-25s has been described as unfair and counter-productive by the Scottish Federation of Housing Associations (SFHA), which has gathered new statistics on how social tenants would be affected.
Research for the SFHA has revealed that four per cent of existing housing association or co-operative tenants in Scotland would lose their Housing Benefit, together with 14 per cent of new tenants.
Maureen Watson, Policy and Strategy Manager of the Scottish Federation of Housing Associations, said:
“What the Prime Minister has failed to realise is that Housing Benefit is not an unemployment benefit, per se. Many people in work and on low incomes need help with housing costs. The growing number of part-time workers or “under-employed,” increases this need.
“Removing Housing Benefit altogether from under-25s at some future point is not only extremely unfair, not to mention unworkable, but contradicts the UK Government’s current tranche of welfare reforms.
“Housing Benefit is currently being cut for households with ‘non-dependents’ – for example, working young people, over the age of 18, living with a parent.(2) The combination of these two proposals will undoubtedly see a rise in homelessness, as well as discouraging young people from seeking employment.”
The research revealed that for existing tenants:
• six per cent of all housing association/co-operative households in Scotland have a highest income householder aged under 25.
• 63 per cent of these households receive Housing Benefit.
• That is an estimated four per cent of existing tenants who would be affected.
• Half of these households have children.
For new tenants:
• 19 per cent of new tenants are under 25.
• 73 per cent of those aged under 25 are eligible for Housing Benefit (16 per cent partial, 57 per cent full)
• So, an estimated 14 per cent of all new tenants would be affected by the proposed changes.
• 42 per cent of new tenants affected have children.
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1) Data from the Scottish House Condition Survey and SCORE.
2) See the SFHA’s report, The Impact of Proposed Welfare Reform on Housing Association/Co-operative Tenants’ (p.9, Non-Dependent Deductions) available here http://www.sfha.co.uk/component/option,com_docman/Itemid,37/gid,1345/task,doc_download/
3) SFHA recently gave evidence to the Finance Committee on the impact of welfare reform on housing associations/co-operatives and their tenants. Download a copy of our written evidence HERE http://www.sfha.co.uk/component/option,com_docman/Itemid,82/gid,2244/task,doc_download/
4) The SFHA was established in 1975 and has around 170 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.
5) 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 per cent of the country’s affordable rented housing stock, over a quarter of a million homes across Scotland.
6) Housing associations and co-operatives are not-for-profit bodies regulated by the Scottish Housing Regulator.