Shortfall rent payments at all time high

Shelter Scotland has hit out at the UK Government over the increase in payments being made to families across Scotland in order for people to have a roof over their heads.

Figures released last week reveal that during the period April 1 to June 30, 2015, Local Authorities (LAs) in Scotland made 84,000 Discretionary Housing Payment (DHP) awards.

The average award value was £481, typically to cover shortfalls in housing costs through to March 31, 2016.

DHPs are administered in Scotland by the 32 Scottish local authorities and may be awarded when a LA considers that a claimant on Housing Benefit or Universal Credit (which includes a housing element towards rental liability) requires further financial assistance towards housing costs.

Shelter Scotland’s director of housing and homelessness charity Graeme Brown has hit out at the increase in payments saying: ‘‘The figures show a 22,812 increase in the number of DHPs made compared to the same period last year and show the desperate circumstances faced by tens of thousands of households across Scotland on a daily basis.

“That 84,000 households received the help they needed to pay for their homes is good news, but the plain fact that so many could not afford to cover their housing costs in the first place just goes to show the true extent of Scotland’s housing crisis.

“We urge every local authority to do all they can to help as many people as possible as a matter of urgency and anyone struggling to pay their rent to apply for help that is available.

‘‘Failure to do so would mean that some people would face the very real threat of mounting rent arrears, eviction and homelessness.”

Mr Brown added: “While a vital lifeline to people who need them, DHPs are not a long-term solution. These payments are being used to paper over the cracks in poor policies, like the Bedroom 

‘‘We urge the Scottish Government to use the powers available to them to abolish this contentious policy once and for all.

“To meaningfully tackle our housing crisis, we need to build more affordable homes, including 10,000 new social homes every year for the foreseeable future.”