Landlords receive 14 times more support than tenants during Covid-19 in Scotland

The Scottish Government has been accused of ‘completely abandoning’ tenants during the pandemic by Scottish Labour after it emerged landlords received around 14 times more in cash Covid-19 support.

In total, private and social housing landlords and housing associations have received just under £7 million in government support, with tenant support paying out just under £550,000 since the beginning of the pandemic.

The figures, obtained by The Scotsman through Freedom of Information legislation, also confirm no money from the £10m grant fund to tenants has been paid out after the fund’s initial announcement in June.

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It also shows just £200,000 of a £5m fund to help private landlords was handed out by the government.

Around £7m has gone to landlords from the Scottish Government during the pandemic.Around £7m has gone to landlords from the Scottish Government during the pandemic.
Around £7m has gone to landlords from the Scottish Government during the pandemic.

Scottish Labour said the failure to support tenants meant people faced losing their homes.

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During the pandemic, the Scottish Government did put in place an ban on evictions. However, this was lifted when Scotland moved out of level two in May.

Scottish Housing Regulator figures showed a five-fold increase in the number of evictions due to rent arrears in the first quarter of 2021/22, with the total of these evictions rising from six to 38.

This is despite social housing landlords receiving the vast majority of the government support during the pandemic.

Housing associations and other social housing landlords received more than £6.7m from five government funds, with £2m of the Social Housing Tenants Fuel Support Fund being administered directly by the Scottish Federation of Housing Associations.

In total, a further £90,000 was paid to social housing tenants via the Tenant Hardship Fund, with £450,000 being paid to private tenants.

Landlords in the private sector received almost £200,000 through the £5m Private Rent Sector Landlord Covid-19 Scheme, which offered up to 100 per cent of lost rental income when it was launched in the early stages of the pandemic.

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Labour’s housing spokesperson Mark Griffin said: “Tenants have been completely abandoned by the SNP.

“They stripped away the legal protection of the evictions ban months before putting financial support in place, leaving tenants to rack up debt and face losing their home.

"Most weren't even able to access the paltry support the Tenant Hardship Loan Fund offered and those who did have those repayments hanging over them.

“We are already seeing signs that evictions are sky-rocketing because of the SNP’s reckless disregard for tenants.

“Support for landlords must come with clear conditions to ensure it protects tenants and prevents evictions.”

Responding to the figures, a Scottish Government spokesperson said it did not yet know how many grants had been provided through the new scheme due to the money being handed to local government earlier this week.

The spokesperson said: “We have provided £39m to support tenants in all sectors who are struggling financially as a result of the pandemic. Our package of measures available to tenants includes Discretionary Housing Payments, a £10m Tenant Hardship Loan Fund, and advice on maximising income.

“Part of our package includes councils being given £10m to provide grants to tenants who have fallen into rent arrears as a result of the pandemic and are at risk of eviction, allowing them to reduce or pay off their rent arrears.”

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