THE Scottish Federation of Housing Associations (SFHA) has welcomed the first report of the Scottish Parliament’s Welfare Reform Committee, released today (Wednesday 16th May 2012). (1)
Maureen Watson, policy director at SFHAm said:
“We welcome the Committee’s report which takes on board the seriousness of the SFHA’s concerns about the impacts of the welfare reform changes on housing associations and their tenants.
“The Committee recognises our apprehension about the potential impact of paying benefits direct to tenants, rather than landlords, that this is very likely to have a serious impact on members’ revenue, as currently 96 per cent of tenants in Scotland opt to have housing benefit paid direct to their landlord. It will also make it more expensive for our members to raise private finance.”
Ms Watson continued:
“Other aspects of the changes, like moving all the administration of benefits online, raises important financial inclusion issues for tenants who often do not have access to the internet, particularly in remote rural areas, which the committee accepts.
“We appreciate the Scottish Parliament, and the Committee, are determined to pass the bill quickly for a smooth transition, but we still have concerns for families on very low incomes adjusting to the new system from 2013. We want to work with the Scottish Government to ensure as much information and help is available for families as possible.
“Ultimately, a lack of affordable housing will hinder what the government is trying to achieve with welfare reform. That’s why we will continue to point out to both he UK and Scottish Governments the need for a sufficient supply of affordable housing, and a sensible, understandable and fair welfare system for those who need help with housing costs.”
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1) The Welfare Reform Committee’s first report is available at http://www.scottish.parliament.uk/S4_Welfare_Reform_Committee/Reports/wrr-12-01w.pdf
2) The SFHA was established in 1975 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.
3) 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.
4) Housing associations and co-operatives are not-for-profit bodies regulated by the Scottish Housing Regulator.
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Contact: Claire Munro