Parliament call for changes to benefit system

The Scottish Parliament’s Social Security Committee is conducting an inquiry into social security support for housing. The Committee is exploring how changes to the social security system are impacting on tenants and landlords.

In addition to a written response (members remember you need to be logged in to see this) to the committee’s call for views, SAL chief executive John Blackwood gave oral evidence to the committee in parliament in January and March 2019.

The Committee has now published a report on their findings, which identifies a number of areas of concern and recommends that changes are put in place to address these, including:

  • the Department for Work & Pensions (DWP) should improve the payment process to reduce rent arrears;
  • DWP should work more closely with private landlords;
  • DWP should review the Local Housing Allowance rates with a view to increasing them as required to support those in housing need access more of the private rental market;
  • the default should be payment directly to a landlord, with the option for a tenant to opt out;
  • Scottish Choices, allowing the tenant to opt for payment directly to the landlord, should be paid from the start of a claim rather than from month two.

SAL fully supports the recommendations made by the committee, in particular the call for direct payment of the housing element of any benefit to the landlord, which we have long campaigned for to give landlords more confidence in letting to tenants in receipt of benefit. We encourage the DWP and Scottish Government to work together to bring about the suggested changes.