RESPONDING to the Work and Pensions Committee report on Universal Credit, Dr Mary Taylor, chief executive of the Scottish Federation of Housing Associations (SFHA), said:
“The essential message of the report from the Work and Pensions Committee confirms our view that the pace of change is too fast for such far-reaching changes to welfare, with so many details still to be clarified.
“We welcome the Committee’s recognition of the very real risks in paying housing benefit direct to tenants for some of the most vulnerable people in our society. The DWP should stop and listen to the Committee and give tenants the choice to continue to have their housing benefit paid direct to their landlords. Otherwise they risk pushing tenants and social landlords into an entirely avoidable hole of rent arrears and debt.
“There is undue haste about the way the Government is pursuing its welfare reforms. This new and considered report gives the Government the opportunity to get things right, by testing their plans more carefully prior to full implementation, and crucially pausing to deliberate on the findings of demonstration and pilot projects currently underway.
“We urge the Government to heed the Select Committee’s overall message: if they adjust the pace and the detailed aspects of their plans, they stand a chance of realising their ambitions for Universal Credit.
“But the choice for the Government is stark, as are the consequences of getting it wrong. We hope they take the chance to recognise that if they get this wrong, the fallout will be considerably more expensive for all of us, more than any of us can afford.”
The comments were made in advance of the Scottish social housing sector’s welfare reform conference which is taking place on Monday 26th November at the Grand Central Hotel in Glasgow. Jointly promoted by the SFHA, the Association of Local Authority Chief Housing Officers, CIH Scotland, and TPAS Scotland and supported by the Scottish Government, this conference will focus on the challenges facing the Scottish affordable housing sector.
The conference will be addressed by the Minister for Housing and Welfare, Margaret Burgess MSP.
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- The Scottish social housing sector’s conference on welfare reform, entitled Rising to the Challenge is taking place on Monday 26th November at the Grand Central Hotel in Glasgow.
- The SFHA was established in 1976 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.
- 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.
- Housing associations and co-operatives are not-for-profit bodies regulated by the Scottish Housing Regulator.