MILLIONS of pounds set aside to help tens of thousands of people struggling due to the so-called Bedroom Tax and other welfare reforms is still to be allocated by local authorities across Scotland – with the deadline of 31st March fast approaching.
Says a spokesperson for housing charity, Shelter Scotland: “With less than four weeks to go until this year’s discretionary housing payment (DHP) budget has to be spent – Shelter Scotland is urging local authorities to do all they can to help struggling tenants access the fund.
“The charity’s analysis of Scottish Government figures (1) showed that by 31st December 2013 more than £15 million remained unspent. More worryingly, a quarter of local authorities had spent less than 30 per cent of their DHP budget for 2013-14, with only ten local authorities having spent 90 per cent or more.
“Coming on the day after Shelter Scotland joined forces with other leading third sector organisations to highlight the scale and impact of poverty across Scotland, the housing charity is today urging local authorities to move quickly and take a proactive approach.
“It wants each local authority to review and publish DHP policies in light of the Scottish Government’s £20 million top up, to re-assess earlier applications and to promote the fund to potential recipients.”
Shelter Scotland also says local authorities cannot carry over all the underspend (2) and therefore run the risk of losing it and failing vulnerable individuals who need help paying their rent and arrears as a result of the reforms.
Graeme Brown, director of Shelter Scotland, says: “Shelter Scotland has been campaigning for an end to the bedroom tax since before it was introduced and we managed to get the Scottish Government to make £20 million extra available to local authorities to help people struggling to pay their rent.
“We are concerned that there is still a significant number of struggling tenants eligible to receive this money who are not getting it – whatever the reason.
“It would be shameful if all the money now available isn’t spent.
“We urge every local authority to do all they can to help as many people as possible as a matter of urgency and anyone struggling with their rent to apply for help. Failure to do so just doesn’t make sense and would mean that, instead of getting help, some people would face the very real threat of mounting rent arrears, eviction and homelessness.”
Contacts: Neil Baldwin and Rachel Davidson – 0844 515 2442.
Notes to Editors:
1. Link to Shelter Scotland’s analysis/report, here.
2. Local authorities cannot carry over any underspend in respect of the Department for Work and Pension’s initial contribution to DHP of just over £16 million.
3. Shelter Scotland helps over half a million people a year struggling with bad housing or homelessness – and we campaign to prevent it in the first place. We’re here so no-one has to fight bad housing or homelessness on their own. For advice and support visit www.shelterscotland.org or call 0808 800 4444.
4. Spokespeople are available for interview – call the media office on 0844 515 2442. An ISDN line is available for broadcast interviews.
5. Follow Shelter Scotland on Facebook – http://www.facebook.com/shelterscotland Twitter – http://twitter.com/shelterscotland
Shelter Scotland believes everyone should have a home. We help people find and keep a home. We campaign for decent housing for all.
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Contact: Shelter Scotland