Citizens Advice Scotland (CAS) have backed a report today from the charity Crisis which shows that government changes to Housing Benefit could lead to an increase in homelessness. The change will see HB claimants in some parts of Scotland losing more than £54 per week.
The UK government is changing its rules on HB payments for 25-34 year olds. Currently they are able claim enough in HB to live on their own, but this change will mean that everyone in this age group will automatically get the rate they would receive if they were in shared accomodation - which will be significantly less than what is needed to sustain a one-person home.
Such people will therefore be forced to move into shared homes. But the Crisis report also shows that 93% of housing professionals in Scotland believe there is not enough shared housing in Scotland.
CAS Chief Executive Lucy McTernan said,
“This change will cause huge problems for significant numbers of people. CAB advisers see many people in this age group who are already struggling. This will make things worse for them, not better.
“There are around 7,500 people in Scotland who will be hit by this change. The amount they will lose varies by Local Authority but in some areas is as high as £54.23 per week. That’s a lot of money, and in practice it will severely limit the housing options for people who are already financially vulnerable. (these figures come from the Scottish government report referenced below).
“This is only one of many cuts being made by the UK government, but it is one that could cause undue suffering for many Scots, and could certainly increase the amount of rough sleeping and homelessness.
“The aim of the policy seems to be to move these people from single accommodation to shared homes. Quite apart from the disruption this will cause to many lives and communities, the plain fact is that there simply aren’t enough shared properties to house all these people. We will be urging the government to think again.”
To arrange CAS interviews etc. please contact Tony Hutson on 0131 550 1010.
CAS is a member of the group set up by the Scottish Government to monitor the impact of Housing Benefit changes. The group is meeting today in Edinburgh. In January it published an Impact Report on this change, which shows the amount of money that will be lost to claimants in each Local Authority in Scotland.
Today’s Crisis report is a UK-wide document. It says the numbers of people affected by the change across the UK is 88,000. The report is on the Crisis website at http://www.crisis.org.uk/