In England, the National Housing Federation has warned that housing associations cannot afford to build new sheltered homes due to new Tory funding rules, the shutting-down of services and the ‘crushing’ of investment. They predict a shortfall of 240 000 by 2030 of the kind of housing relied on by the elderly, the disabled, victims of domestic violence and ex-servicemen and women.
Also, poorer pensioners will lose between £300 and £1700 per year due to occupying allegedly under-occupied homes due to the second ‘new bedroom tax’. This could mean thousands of pensioners forced away from family and friends into flats unsuitable for them. In most cases, there are not even smaller homes available so many of these pensioners will be forced into poverty.
In sharp contrast, the SNP has launched a series of welfare reform mitigation actions. See this:
Welfare reform mitigation
Across 2013-16, the Scottish Government invested £296 million to mitigate the worst aspects of UK welfare policy, via the Scottish Welfare Fund (SWF), Discretionary Housing Payments, Council Tax Reduction Scheme (CTRS) and other activity, such as advice and advocacy support services. The Scottish Government is providing a further £100 million in 2016-17. This investment continues to support people affected by the UK Government’s welfare cuts in a range of different ways:
- fully mitigating the bedroom tax – spending £35 million in 2016-17 and £47 million in 2017-18 – to help over 70,000 households in Scotland, an estimated 80% of which contain at least one disabled person, to sustain their tenancies; the Scottish Government is committed to using newly devolved social security powers to effectively abolish the bedroom tax
- a further £10.9 million will be available to local authorities to mitigate the impact of other UK Government welfare reforms and help claimants of Housing benefit or Universal Credit maintain tenancies
- providing another £38 million this year for the SWF. Between 1 April 2013 and 30 September 2016, the Fund has supported over 230,000 households in Scotland, including around 77,000 families with children. 77,000 awards were made to households containing at least one disabled person
- since April 2013 the Scottish Government has committed £92 million for the CTRS over and above the funding transferred from the UK Government upon abolition of Council Tax Benefit. In 2017-18, this funding will increase to an additional £31 million, resulting in a total of £351 million being included in the local government finance settlement paid to local authorities in relation to the scheme
- In addition, the Scottish Government is making significant investment in advice and advocacy support services to enable people to access expert support in applying for benefits and appealing adverse decisions.
Those involved in the Tory ‘surge’ in Scotland need to know about this. I have to assume they don’t know. If you know one of them, please print this out and put it through their door.