Argyll and Bute Council is to receive an extra £550,390 from the Scottish Government to help householders struggling with the effects of the so-called ‘bedroom tax’.
The cash injection is part of a £20 million pot announced on Thursday to help support Scottish households in the face of welfare reforms being implemented by the UK government.
The additional funding has been allocated to local authorities to add to their Discretionary Housing Payment (DHP) budget.
People on housing benefit who are in financial difficulty can apply to their local council for emergency funding towards their on-going housing costs, such as rent shortages. The extra funding will increase the total DHP budget in Scotland from £15 million to £35 million.
This week’s allocation of £550,390 to Argyll and Bute Council adds to the authority’s previous DHP allocation of £370,656, taking the total funding available to the authority to £921,046.
Margaret Burgess MSP, the Scottish Government’s minister for housing and welfare, said: “We are determined to do everything we can to help mitigate welfare cuts, including the bedroom tax.”
In addition to Thursday’s £20 million funding announcement, a total of £1,781,768 will be distributed to local authorities to honour an error by the Department for Work and Pensions and for transitional funding for the under-occupancy measure, bringing the total to £35,250,602.
Graeme Brown, director of homelessness charity Shelter Scotland, said: “We welcome the speed at which the Scottish Government has moved to make an extra £550,390 available to Argyll and Bute Council.
“The council can now offer a lifeline to even more households in Argyll and Bute struggling to pay their rent as a direct result of the iniquitous bedroom tax.
“The challenge now is for Argyll and Bute Council to act quickly and get the money to tenants to help them pay their rent. Argyll and Bute Council must make sure that struggling tenants know that more help is at hand and do all they can to help the maximum number of people this year.
“Shelter Scotland encourages anyone in Argyll and Bute who is struggling with their rent as a result of welfare reform, including the bedroom tax, to apply for discretionary housing payments and for those who applied and were turned down before this money was made available, to reapply.”