YESTERDAY’S Budget will have a detrimental impact on communities directly and housing associations indirectly and will push those who are already suffering further into poverty.

The reduction in the benefit cap from £26,000 to £20,000 in Scotland will hit those who had already had their benefits capped hardest. The latest report from the DWP states that 800 households in Scotland are subject to the current benefit cap; reducing the cap is likely to more than double that.

Some of these households will be women and their children fleeing domestic violence forced to live in temporary accommodation. A Scottish Parliament committee report recently highlighted existing inequality for women, aggravated by the reforms.

Freezing working age benefits for four years, and restricting tax credits and Universal Credit to two children, affecting those born after April 2017, will only serve to make it harder to escape the poverty trap. A study by Barnardo’s Scotland found that 49 per cent of families in Scotland (301,600) currently use working tax credits to top up low incomes, helping them buy essentials such as food and clothing for their family. Now, more people will be forced to turn to foodbanks.

The Scottish Federation of Housing Associations is wholeheartedly against the removal of the automatic entitlement to Housing Benefit for 18 to 21-year-olds. This will have an adverse affect on the life chances and employment prospects of the 28,000 plus claimants in this group – over half of whom have young families of their own – as it could, for many, put their homes at risk.

The Chancellor announced a one per cent reduction in the level of social housing rents every year for the next four years; however, with housing devolved in Scotland, there is no means to apply a national rent reduction. These cuts have the potential to be just as damaging as the bedroom tax.


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