Benefit cuts

At Prime Minister’s Questions on Wednesday, David Cameron claimed that cutting housing benefit for tenants in the private rented sector was resulting in rent levels coming down. In Scotland, as in the rest of the UK, this is patently not the case.

Since benefit rates (“local housing allowance”) started being reduced last April, three times more private rents have increased than decreased in Scotland.

The real impact will be felt from this month onwards, as the cycle of annual entitlement reviews starts. Thousands of tenants will now face a cut in their benefit and, therefore, real difficulty in paying their rent.

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It is one thing for the coalition government to reduce housing benefit as part of its welfare reforms. But Mr Cameron needs to face the consequences of his government’s actions rather than mislead parliament over the impact the cuts are having.

Jim Strang

Chartered Institute of Housing Scotland

Princes Street, Edinburgh