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Minister calls for urgent reform.
In a letter to the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, Housing Minister Kevin Stewart has criticised “tweaks” to Local Housing Allowance rates, saying they will do nothing to tackle the past damage caused by years of austerity or the future damage still to be inflicted by UK Government welfare cuts.
Mr Stewart said:
“The potential impacts on household finances, rental arrears and ultimately homelessness as a result of the LHA not being brought up to an acceptable level are very concerning. These tweaks will leave people who need support through the UK welfare system exposed to an unfair system, with some people unable to afford suitable affordable accommodation.
“An average increase of less than 1.7% equates to less than five pounds a week, or as little as 40p for some people and is hardly the end of austerity that was promised.
“The Scottish Government continues to do what it can in the face of the worst of impacts of UK cuts, with more than £60 million a year being spent in Discretionary Housing Payments to mitigate the UK Government’s Bedroom Tax and low levels of Local Housing Allowance rates. What is needed is a multi-year plan for investment at UK Government level to limit the damage caused by of years of austerity and a decent increase in the LHA.”
Housing benefit for private tenants is called Local Housing Allowance (LHA) which can help towards the cost of rent, but it doesn't cover charges for heating, hot water, lighting, laundry or cooking.
The rate of LHA people receive depends on the area they’re living in, and the number of rooms they need. This makes sure people living in the same area as you under the same circumstances get the same amount of support.
A copy of Mr Stewart’s letter to Therese Coffey MP, Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, alongside a table showing the updated Local Allowance Rates is attached.