Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Welfare Reform

The issue of Welfare Reform was covered at the Council's Corporate Policy and Strategy Committee today.

Item 7.1 on the agenda provided information which shows that in just 6 months the Council is dealing with additional rent arrears of £2.6m - that is a 132% increase - which appears to be a direct result of a signal sent out by the Council with their ill advised no evictions policy.  
By contrast, Housing Associations knew what would happen and resisted the 'no evictions' policy.  The figures presented today illustrate how right they were. The same figures illustrated that out of Housing Associations who have currently responded, the rate of increase in arrears is significantly lower at 9% - 22%.

The Labour/SNP Administration failed to accept an amendment from the Conservative Group calling for a review of the 'no evictions' policy and an immediate report on its effect.

Making a contribution in support of the amendment, Councillor Cameron Rose also noted:
1. How the unfair consequence of this policy is that it has led more people to get into debt.

2. That It is unfair to tenants and taxpayers who may now have to pick up the cost of the increases in unpaid rent.

3. That It is unfair that some tenants have extra rooms paid for from the public purse.

In addition, Councillor Rose highlighted that around 4000 people are bidding for houses in Edinburgh because they consider themselves overcrowded.  

Commenting, Councillor Rose said: "Labour and the SNP are fighting hard to maintain these injustices.  Today they sent a signal that they don't care about fairness."
Note: Full Committee Papers can be found here:
The full text of the Conservative Motion to the Corporate Policy and Strategy Committee reads as follows:

Item 7.1   Welfare Reform – further update.
Notes with concern the 132% increase  in rent arrears in the six month period between 31st March 2013 and 30th September 2013 resulting in an additional  £2.6m of Council house rent debt.
Notes that the Council’s adopted ‘no eviction’ policy appears to have had a dramatic effect on the level of rent arrears in contrast to the policy of Registered Social Landlords, where increases in rent arrears have been more modest.
Resolves to review the ‘no evictions’ policy and calls for an immediate report on its effect within one cycle.


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