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Under Occupancy

From 1 April 2013 many working age tenants in council or housing association accommodation claiming Housing Benefit who have more bedrooms than they need will have their allowance reduced– by 14 per cent if you have one bedroom more than you require or, 25 per cent if tenants have two or more bedrooms than they need for the size of the family.  With funding provided by the Scottish Government, CIH has produced guidance to help prepare landlords for these reforms.

See the Under Occupancy Size Criteria.

Bedroom Tax

The Scottish Government continue to oppose the bedroom tax. It is unfair and divisive, it will hit some of our most vulnerable groups hardest, and it undermines and jeopardises devolved policies. It will have a disproportionate impact on some of the most vulnerable people in society – underlined by the fact that eight out of 10 households affected by the bedroom tax in Scotland contain an adult with a registered disability.

 

 

 

Welfare Reform Analysis

The Scottish Government has also undertaken analysis in relation to the welfare reform changes.

Claiming Housing Benefit

If you are on a low income, whether you are working or not, and need financial help to pay all or part of your rent, you may be able to get housing benefit. All Housing Benefit claims are processed by local authorities on behalf of the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP). To make a claim or if you need information about the rules for qualifying for a claim, contact your local authority.

Housing Benefit is paid to tenants renting their homes in either private or social rented housing. Since 2008, tenants with a private landlord who claim Housing Benefit receive a Local Housing Allowance which restricts the amount paid to their household needs. If you are already claiming Local Housing Allowance local authorities will be writing to you about changes to Housing Benefit.

Home owners are not eligible for Housing Benefit but you may be eligible to apply for Support for Mortgage Interest (SMI), depending on your circumstances.

Housing Benefit Reform

Housing benefit reform

Although housing policy and legislation is devolved to Scotland, housing benefit and most other welfare benefits remain the responsibility of the UK Government.

Housing benefit is available to people on low incomes to help cover all or part of their rent costs. The UK Government made a number of changes to housing benefit, some of which took effect from 1 April 2011. They will mainly affect people who rent from a private landlord. However, claimants who receive non-dependent allowance could also be affected.

These changes form part of the UK Government's wider Welfare Reform agenda aimed at simplifying the benefits system, removing disincentives to work, and controlling public expenditure.

The Welfare Reform Bill makes other significant changes to the benefits system, including housing benefit. We have a number of concerns about the reforms, including that they will restrict housing benefit for social housing tenants whose accommodation is deemed to be larger than they need. Local Housing Allowance rates will be uprated in line with the Consumer Price Index. The Consumer Price Index measures the average changes in the prices of consumer goods and services in the UK from month to month. It is the main measure of inflation in the UK; the government uses it for its inflation target.

At present, housing benefits claimants in private rented housing receive direct payments. It is proposed that direct payments will also be made to council and housing association tenants who claim housing benefit. When it is introduced in October 2013, Universal Credit will cap the total amount of benefit that can be claimed for each household based on average weekly incomes. Although still to be agreed by the UK Parliament, the current proposal sets the cap at £350 for a single person household and £500 for a family.

Potential Impact of the Changes

The changes to housing benefit might make it more difficult for recipients to meet their housing costs. We are concerned that these reforms could undermine the strong housing rights to homeless households resulting from the achievement of the 2012 target that every unintentionally homeless person in Scotland is entitled to settled accommodation.

Local authorities and housing associations are concerned that the move to the new system of direct payment of benefits to claimants could lead to rent arrears and evictions, which would not only adversely affect tenants but also add to landlords' management costs. Although DWP have carried out an impact assessment for the UK, the Scottish Government has carried out its own impact assessment and other analysis on Scotland's housing system.

The Scottish Government response to the reforms includes establishing with COSLA the Housing Benefit Reform Stakeholder Group, publishing our own analysis on the impact of the reforms and extensive engagement with the UK Government.