Social security and its impact on rented housing to be investigated


Scotland’s Social Security Committee is today launching an inquiry into whether the social security system adequately supports tenants in both the private rented sector and social housing.

There are growing concerns that a system which should support people to be able to rent an affordable home, is failing too many. The Social Security Committee wants to explore the extent to which this is the case. It will interrogate some of the possible reasons, including looking at the potential impact of Universal Credit and the changes to the Local Housing Allowance. 

Bob Doris MSP, Convener of the Social Security Committee, said:

“We constantly hear about pressures on social housing, increasing rates of rent arrears and the need to do more to tackle homelessness. The private rented sector has an important role to play to ease some of these pressures and our committee wishes to establish to what extent the social security system assists or let’s down those in need of private rented accommodation in Scotland. This Committee wants to know what more needs to be done.

“We will also be investigating the impact of transferring housing payments for those previously on Housing Benefit into the Universal Credit system. With Citizens Advice Scotland reporting a 40% surge in those seeking help for rent arrears following Universal Credit roll out, our inquiry is timely.

“We wish to know what the impact has been on tenants, councils and housing associations; as well as the private rented sector.

 “Whether you are a tenants or landlords, irrespective of whether it’s the private or socially rented sector, I would urge you to get in touch and tell the committee about your experience of the social security system”

 Some of the key issues the Committee are looking to investigate are:

• How have changes to the Local Housing Allowance impacted on the private rented sector, particularly for the affordability of rents for young people?

• To what extent have UK welfare reform measures impacted on private landlords’ willingness to let to those in receipt of social security benefits?

• How the administration of Universal Credit Housing Costs impact on the ability of tenants to pay their rent and landlords to administer rent payments?

• How Universal Credit Scottish Choices and Discretionary Housing Payments impact on the way landlords and tenants handle Universal Credit housing costs?

The committee is keen to hear evidence from as wide a range of people as possible so if you are a landlord or tenant who would like to contribute please click here.


This Committee’s call for views is open until Monday 18 March.

Citizens Advice Scotland published a report in October 2018. The report, Rent Arrears: Causes and Consequences, noted that advice in relation to rent arrears had grown by over 40% since 2012. More information about the report can be found here. 


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