Cut warn­ing

Rutherglen Reformer - - Front Page - Edel Ke­nealy

A so­cial landlord in Cam­bus­lang says the pro­posed cap on hous­ing ben­e­fit could be calami­tous for it and its ten­ants.

West Whit­law­burn Hous­ing Co­op­er­a­tive (WWHC) says it could be plunged into fi­nan­cial cri­sis if the change goes ahead.

A so­cial landlord which leases 644 homes in Cam­bus­lang says the a pro­posed cap on hous­ing ben­e­fit could be calami­tous for it and its ten­ants.

West Whit­law­burn Hous­ing Co­op­er­a­tive (WWHC) says it could be plunged into fi­nan­cial cri­sis when the UK Gov­ern­ment in­tro­duces its planned cut to hous­ing ben­e­fit for sin­gle peo­ple aged 35 and un­der who are liv­ing alone.

Dubbed ‘ bed­room tax two’, the pro­posal would see the new hous­ing ben­e­fit, called lo­cal hous­ing al­lowance (LHA), cut by up to onequar­ter.

It would mean a Cam­bus­lang ten­ant rent­ing a one-bed­room flat in West Whit­law­burn would have his hous­ing ben­e­fit cut from the cur­rent £92.06 to £68.28.

The new fig­ure is based on the shared ac­com­mo­da­tion rate (SAR), the hous­ing ben­e­fit paid to peo­ple in shared ac­com­mo­da­tion.

Paul Far­rell, di­rec­tor of WWHC, said: “We are ex­tremely con­cerned about this raft of cur­rent pro­pos­als, pri­mar­ily for our cur­rent and prospec­tive fu­ture ten­ants, but also for our fi­nan­cial sta­bil­ity.

“We are par­tic­u­larly ex­posed to this bed­room tax two as we have a con­sid­er­able num­ber of sin­gle ten­ants un­der 35 and we also have a high pro­por­tion of two-bed­room prop­er­ties.

“The so­cial and fi­nan­cial im­pact of th­ese pro­pos­als could be calami­tous. We will have to look closely at the po­ten­tial im­pact on our busi­ness plan.”

Sev­eral so­cial hous­ing providers in the area - in­clud­ing WWHC, Ruther­glen and Cam­bus­lang Hous­ing As­so­ci­a­tion and South La­nark­shire Coun­cil - have al­ready be­gun to as­sess the num­bers of un­der- 35s re­sid­ing in their prop­er­ties in a bid to gauge the scale of the prob­lem.

But they be­lieve ar­rears and home­less­ness will sky-rocket in this area if the pro­posal is im­ple­mented.

Mr Far rell dis­missed the Depart­ment for Work and Pen­sions’ (DWP) claim that the change would bring the so­cial sec­tor in line with the pri­vate sec­tor, where ten­ants re­ceive a set hous­ing pay­ment, ir­re­spec­tive of the cost of their ac­com­mo­da­tion.

He said: “Clearly the West­min­ster ob­jec­tive is to cut the wel­fare bill. How­ever, the hu­man im­pact and mis­ery of th­ese cuts does not seem to be a con­cern to those re­spon­si­ble for in­flict­ing such mis­ery.

“We awa i t the Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment’s re­sponse to mit­i­gate this po­ten­tial cri­sis for ten­ants and so­cial land­lords. We will be lob­by­ing heav­ily for sup­port for the most vul­ner­a­ble.”

The DWP says peo­ple cur­rently rent­ing a one- bed­room prop­erty will not be af­fected be­cause it will en­sure that when they are trans­ferred to uni­ver­sal credit and the new LHA they will re­ceive the same amount of money.

A spokes­woman for the DWP said: “Th­ese changes are about restor­ing fair­ness to the sys­tem and en­sur­ing that those on ben­e­fits face the same choices as every­one else. The re­al­ity is noth­ing will change un­til April 2019 and ex­ist­ing ten­an­cies signed be­fore April 1, 2016, will be un­af­fected.

“We will have pro­vided £1bn in dis­cre­tionary hous­ing pay­ments across Great Bri­tain by 2020 to sup­port peo­ple tran­si­tion­ing to our re­forms.”

Con­cerned Paul Far­rell

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