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Benefits overhaul ‘will see elderly end up on street’

(Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

NEARLY 8000 pensioners in Scotland are at risk from a benefits shake-up to housing.

There are claims affected elderly and vulnerable people could be made homeless due to the changes.

The UK Government wants to cap the amount of money people renting in social housing can get, in a move that has been dubbed Bedroom Tax 2 by critics.

The Local Housing Allowance was introduced in 2008 and is used as a cap on the amount paid on behalf of a benefits-receiving-tenant to a landlord.

But last September, Work and Pensions Secretary Damian Green announced it would be rolled out to supported housing tenancies from 2019.

That will include sheltered housing.

Now, there are claims over 7700 Scottish pensioners could be affected.

Sheltered housing costs more than standard council tenancies because as well as rent, residents need to pay support costs for services like wardens and site management.

According to UK charity the Elderly Accommodation Counsel, the average cost of sheltered housing ranges from £100 to £115 every week.

The figure can be broken down to include rent of £85 and support costs of up to £30.

But LHA will mean those housing benefits will be capped at under £100 in 16 out of Scotland’s 18 regions.

In just two areas around Aberdeen and Edinburgh, authorities will hand out more than £100 a week for pensioners.

The median rate is £83.16 a week but can go as low as £72 in the Scottish Borders.

Sean Clerkin Chairman of the Save Our Homes campaign (Newsquest)
Sean Clerkin Chairman of the Save Our Homes campaign (Newsquest)

New research by the Scottish Federation of Housing Associations – who have analysed DWP figures – say over 10,000 Scottish pensioners get more than £100 a week in housing benefit currently with 7771 living in housing association or council accommodation.

It estimates the majority of them live in sheltered housing and they will struggle to make ends meet following the changes in 2019.

SFHA chief executive Mary Taylor said: “The change to rent support for older people has the potential to cause great anxiety and harm to very vulnerable people.”

Adam Hillier, of Elderly Accommodation Counsel, said: “We are concerned the elderly will not get enough money in housing benefit to pay for their homes.”

The Scottish Tenants Organisation said the changes could see pensioners made homeless.

Sean Clerkin of the organisation said: “This is a cruel, vindictive policy that will affect the lives of pensioners and other vulnerable groups.

“These drastic cuts will see pensioners end up on the street.

“We need to oppose them in the hope the Government changes its mind before it is too late.”

A spokeswoman for the DWP said they will give the Scottish Government additional funding to cope with any shortfall.


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