21,000 Scots could face up to a to­tal £22.6m rent gap from planned un­der-35s LHA cap – in­terim re­port sug­gests

The Oban Times - - Property -

AN ES­TI­MATED 21,000 so­cial ten­ants across Scot­land aged un­der 35 could po­ten­tially be ad­versely af­fected by UK Govern­ment plans to cap hous­ing benefi t for so­cial hous­ing ten­ants from April 2019, col­lec­tively fac­ing a rent af­ford­abil­ity gap of up to £ 22.6 mil­lion an­nu­ally. This is a key con­clu­sion of an in­terim re­port on the im­pact of the Lo­cal Hous­ing Al­lowance ( LHA) cap on young peo­ple in Scot­land, com­mis­sioned by the Scot­tish Govern­ment in con­junc­tion with the Char­tered In­sti­tute of Hous­ing in Scot­land and sub­mit­ted this week to the Scot­tish Par­lia­ment Pub­lic Pe­ti­tions Com­mit­tee. A fi nal re­port ex­plor­ing the po­ten­tial to mit­i­gate against the im­pact of LHA re­stric­tions is due to be com­pleted this sum­mer.

Since Oc­to­ber 2015, the UK Govern­ment has made var­i­ous pro­pos­als and amend­ments to cap Hous­ing Benefi t or the hous­ing el­e­ment of Uni­ver­sal Credit for so­cial hous­ing ten­ants at LHA rates, in­clud­ing for those liv­ing in sup­ported or tem­po­rary ac­com­mo­da­tion. The pro­pos­als are in­tended to bring pay­ments for so­cial hous­ing ten­ants in line with those liv­ing in the pri­vate rented sec­tor. Leg­is­la­tion to im­ple­ment these pro­pos­als has yet to be in­tro­duced. How­ever, as the pro­pos­als cur­rently stand, sin­gle peo­ple un­der 35 years of age will see their al­lowance capped at the Shared Ac­com­mo­da­tion Rate (SAR).

Com­par­ing DWP claimant data on av­er­age awards re­ceived by young Hous­ing Ben­e­fit claimants with the Shared Ac­com­mo­da­tion Rate pro­duces an an­nual es­ti­mated rent gap across Scot­land of £ 22.8m. This takes into ac­count main­stream ten­ants and those liv­ing in tem­po­rary or sup­ported ac­com­mo­da­tion. While some ten­ants liv­ing in spe­cial­ist ac­com­mo­da­tion may be pro­tected from the cap, it is not yet clear what ex­emp­tions will be made or how much fund­ing will be avail­able to plug this gap.

Hous­ing as­so­ci­a­tion rents are typ­i­cally higher than lo­cal au­thor­i­ties’ and so will be af­fected more by the pro­posed LHA cap. Us­ing data from DWP awards and the re­cent sup­ported ac­com­mo­da­tion re­view sug­gests that around 14,000, or 65 per cent of main­stream young so­cial ten­ants might be af­fected. This ex­cludes an es­ti­mated 7,000 young peo­ple in sup­ported ac­com­mo­da­tion for whom ad­di­tional sup­port or ex­emp­tions may be avail­able.

The in­terim re­port has been sub­mit­ted to the Scot­tish Par­lia­ment Pub­lic Pe­ti­tions Com­mit­tee fol­low­ing the lodg­ing of a pub­lic pe­ti­tion on the Lo­cal Hous­ing Al­lowance by pe­ti­tioner Sean Clarkin in March 2017. The pe­ti­tion calls for the Scot­tish Govern­ment to bring for­ward a de­bate on the planned LHA cap which it dubs ‘bed­room tax 2’. Com­ment­ing on the fi nd­ings of the in­terim re­port, CIH Scot­land Ex­ec­u­tive Di­rec­tor An­nie Mauger said: ‘ Iden­ti­fy­ing how we might mit­i­gate against the neg­a­tive im­pact of the LHA cap on younger so­cial ten­ants is an on­go­ing work in progress and a fi nal re­port will be pub­lished at the end of July. But this in­terim re­port clearly shows the po­ten­tial scale of the prob­lem across Scot­land. The in­ten­tion be­hind this re­port is to be able to show ex­actly how so­cial ten­ants aged un­der 35 will be af­fected and hope­fully to ex­ert some ad­di­tional pres­sure on the UK Govern­ment to change its plans be­fore they are due to en­ter into force in April 2019.’

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