“Disappointing” Scottish Government won’t support move to improve housing options for Universal Credit claimants, say landlords

John Blackwood, Chief Executive of Scottish Association of Landlords (SAL)

Scotland’s largest membership organisation for private landlords and letting agents has described it as “disappointing” that the Scottish Government won’t support a measure which would increase the availability of homes for those on Universal Credit.

SAL has welcomed the report of the Social Security Committee of the Scottish Parliament which recommended that the default position should be that the housing portion of Universal Credit be paid directly to landlords, be that private or social. 

This would ensure that those on Universal Credit have equal access to accommodation as opposed to the current situation which sees some landlords reluctant to rent to those on Universal Credit because of perceived concerns of delays in rent being paid.

During her evidence to the committee, Shirley-Anne Somerville MSP, indicated that the Scottish Government did not support such a change.

John Blackwood, Chief Executive of (SAL), said: “As the Cabinet Secretary for Social Security and Older People stated during her evidence, we agree that social security is a human right.  This is why we support any measure which ensures those receiving Universal Credit are treated equally and have the same access to housing as everyone else.

“The reluctance of the Scottish Government to support a simple measure which would help achieve that is deeply disappointing.

“What we are proposing, and the Committee report agrees with, is that the default position would be that the housing component of Universal Credit is paid directly to the landlord, private or social, but the tenant would still be able to opt-out if they wanted.  This would reduce the risk to landlords of renting to those on Universal Credit and ensure those in receipt of benefits are treated fairly and equally as they deserve to be.

“The government is expected to formally respond to the Social Security Committee’s report over the summer and I hope they will reflect on their conclusions and join private and social landlords as well as charities and others who support this measure so together we can persuade the UK Government of our case.”