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The material contained in this presentation is the copyright of The Scottish Association of Citizens Advice Bureaux – Citizens Advice Scotland (Scottish charity number SC016637) and may not be reproduced, except by bureaux, without the written consent of the CAS Training Team. Voices from the Frontline: Welfare reform and social housing Keith Dryburgh Citizens Advice Scotland
The Big Society? Does it still matter? Big Society vs. welfare reform vs. budget cuts -Personal responsibility -Conditionality -Changing behaviours -Withdrawal of the state -Localism and community response Food banks – the result of the above
Welfare reform When the present welfare reforms have come into full effect they will take more than £1.6bn a year out of the Scottish economy - equivalent to around £480 a year for every adult of working age. The biggest financial losses arise from reforms to incapacity benefits (£500m a year),changes to Tax Credits (£300m a year) and the 1 per cent up-rating of most working-age benefits (£290m a year). Fife - £113 million annually - £480 for every working age adult
Housing Benefit reform Welfare reforms will entail a loss of £175 million annually in housing support for claimants in Scotland (around £372 per claimant household) The reforms affect the availability and affordability of homes across Scotland Many claimants have or will be affected by a multitude of changes, including sickness and disability benefit reassessments
Citizens Advice Scotland Citizens advice bureaux provide free, impartial, independent and confidential advice on pretty much anything. The main areas of advice include benefits, debt, employment, housing, consumer, and legal issues Clients sought advice on half a million new issues to bureaux throughout 2012/13 – one issue for every minute of the year There are 2,200 volunteers in the service who provide almost 13,000 hours of their time each and every week. There are 81 citizens advice bureaux in Scotland operating through 200 service points. There is probably one near you.
Did you know? Citizens advice bureaux have been around since 1939 – older than the NHS and the modern welfare state!
What bureaux are seeing Increase in benefit issues requiring advice – over 200,000 last year Increase in complexity Significant increases in form filling and appeal representation ESA by far the most common issue at bureaux Increase in Housing Benefit, JSA and food parcel issues this year
Changes to LHA 55,000 households lost an average of £10 per week in payments when LHA was restricted to the 30 th percentile of local rents – limiting payments and the properties available to tenants Linking LHA increases to the consumer prices index (CPI), rather than to rent increases The Shared Accommodation Rate was extended to claimants up to the age of 35. This affected around 7,500 existing claimants who lost between £17 and £54 per week.
Changes to LHA (2) 284 clients seeking advice on the Shared Room Rate for under 35s -A client faced a shortfall of £244 per month in rent to make up from ESA payments -A client who has lived in the tenancy for 11 years and cannot share due his bi-polar disorder -A client who needed a food parcel after his LHA was reduced and his JSA was sanctioned
The ‘bedroom tax’ An estimated 83,500 households in Scotland have so far been affected Loss of £53m annually – an average of £572 per household affected 63,500 households contain an adult with a disability 2,128 recorded ‘bedroom tax’ issues at bureaux since April
The ‘bedroom tax’ (2) Client groups affected: -Clients with significant disabilities -Clients living in adapted housing -Families with disabled children -Homeless clients -Separated parents -Young people leaving home
The ‘bedroom tax’ (3) Impact so far -Hardship for those paying shortfall -Exacerbating existing debt problems -Difficulties finding alternative accommodation -DHP funding has changed impact
The ‘bedroom tax’ (4) Discretionary Housing Payments (DHPs) -Entitlement vs. discretion -£15m fund to cover £45m loss to tenants -SG contributed an additional £20m to funding, meaning that majority of loss is covered -SG intend to cover full cost next year and abolish policy in event of ‘yes’ vote
The Benefit Cap Limit of £500/week in benefit payments 4,600 households affected by the cap 1,420 lone parents Up to 10,000 children affected The SG estimate that this will reduce payments by £14m/year An average loss per household of over £3,000/year or £59/week
The Benefit Cap (2) Around 100 issues reported by bureaux -Single mother with 5 children faces a £900 shortfall in her monthly rent after her LHA was cut by £195 per week -Single parent with 4 children has been told that she must pay £127/week towards her rent
Universal Credit 700,000 households in Scotland to be migrated to UC UC designed to influence claimant behaviour: -Direct payments -Monthly payments -Digital by Default -Payment to bank account
Other benefit changes Changes to Housing Benefit only make up around 10% of the total loss in benefits Other changes will hit social rented tenants – and housing providers – including: -JSA sanctions -Sickness/disability benefit reassessments -Localisation of crisis support
Conditionality Over half a million individuals received a JSA sanction in the 12 months prior to Sept 2013 5% of claimants are sanctioned in any one month 963 claimants have received a three year sanction Work Programme – twice as many sanctions as job outcomes
Reassessment Reassessment of all IB and DLA claimants -220,000 IB claimants in Scotland to be reassessed for ESA over three years -Around 66,000 will be found fit for work – more than 300 every week -202,000 working age DLA claimants in Scotland – all will have to apply for PIP -59,000 will get a decreased award and 52,500 will lose entitlement
Impact - tenants Disabled tenants particularly affected Rent arrears Stress and uncertainty Need for advice/support Additional income – employment/payday loans Food/fuel poverty
Impact – housing providers Preventative approaches Policies on rent arrears Uncertainty of income and borrowing power Homelessness and eviction policies
Impact - services New Housing Benefit issues increased by 11% in 2012/13 Issues in quarter 1 of this financial year were 40% higher than last year Changes are exacerbating the problems of existing clients and creating issues for clients that were previously coping Bureaux are helping in a range of ways, including income maximisation, signposting to in-kind support and negotiating with creditors
Impact – policy makers Clear conflict between UK and Scottish Governments SG have decided to mitigate impact of reforms Universalism vs. Discretion Role of the private sector in welfare
The future? Bedroom Tax and referendum Direct payments to one account Monthly rather than fortnightly payments Housing Benefit removed from under 25s
The Scottish Association of Citizens Advice Bureaux – Citizens Advice Scotland (Scottish charity number SC016637)
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