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Housing Benefit Reform

Housing and Welfare Reform

The UK Government is implementing a major programme of reform to the welfare system. Although welfare is a reserved matter, these measures impact on policy areas which are devolved to the Scottish Government such as health, social care and housing.
Changes to Housing Benefit include cuts to Housing Benefit in the private and social rented sectors and, through Universal Credit, the introduction of direct payments of housing costs to tenants in the social sector.

Scottish Government Response

The Scottish Government is doing what it can within the limits of its powers to protect vulnerable people in Scotland and support people and organisations affected by the reforms. This includes providing funding to councils to fully mitigate the bedroom tax through Discretionary Housing Payments (DHPs).

Scotland Bill 2015-16

Power to vary the housing cost element of Universal Credit (including varying the under-occupancy charge) is set to be devolved to the Scottish Government through the Scotland Bill. Scottish Ministers are committed to using these powers to abolish the 'bedroom tax' as soon as possible.

Help and Advice

If you’re concerned about how you are being affected by welfare reforms, you can get free, independent help and advice from a number of sources including:

Your council may also be able to help or tell you where to get help.

Information For Housing Practitioners

Housing practitioners can keep up to date by joining the Housing & Welfare Reform Knowledge Hub and by using the Welfare Reform Scotland website.

Key Welfare Reforms Affecting Housing

Change Sector Affected Date
Local Housing Allowance (LHA) rates capped and set at 30th percentile of local rents, not 50th Private 2011
First phase of uprating of non-dependent deductions Private & Social 2011
Shared Accommodation Rate (SAR) for single people living in shared accommodation extended from under 25s to under 35s Private 2012
Bedroom tax (Removal of the Spare Room Subsidy) - Housing Benefit reduced for under-occupying tenants of working age. Social 2013
Benefit Cap for working age households - caps the total amount of benefit a household can receive at the national average earnings Private & Social 2013
First Universal Credit new claims in Scotland. To be followed by a phased migration of existing claimants. Private & Social 2014
Uprating of working-age benefits and tax credits capped at 1% Private & Social 2014
Family Premium in Housing Benefit will be removed for new claims and new births from April 2016. Private & Social April 2016
Freeze working age benefits and LHA rates for 4 years - applicable amounts for Housing Benefit From 2016/17 to 2019/20 Private & Social April 2016
Backdating of Housing Benefit limited to 4 weeks rather than 6 months Private & Social April 2016
Entitlement for 18-21 year olds - End automatic entitlement to housing element of Universal Credit. Does not affect young people currently on Housing Benefit. Private & Social April 2017
Reduced Benefit Cap for working age households  - Reduced to £20k (£13,400 for single people) a year outside London. Private & Social Phased introduction from April 2016