Argyll Community Housing Association says that more than one in ten of its tenants has been affected by the introduction of the ‘bedroom tax’ by the UK coalition government.
The housing association says that 583 of its 5,000 tenants have been hit by reforms to housing benefit, which have resulted in £350,000 worth of income coming out of the pockets of some of its poorest tenants.
A news release issued by ACHA on Tuesday stated: “The Association’s research shows that of the 583 affected many - particularly single unemployed people or those in low paid work - will, after paying the tax and the ever-increasing costs of gas and electricity be left with as little as around £20-£25 to pay for food, and any other expenses they have.
“Families are also badly affected with those whose incomes are low enough to get some help with their rent seeing a cut of an average of £50 per month to their household finances.
“The Association offers a benefits maximisation service but for most of those affected the cut can only be avoided by moving, and this is not a realistic possibility for many, particularly in the more remote communities
“The Association is concerned that for many of its tenants affected by the ‘Bedroom Tax’ alternative housing to downsize to fall within the criteria is impractical.
“In communities across Argyll and Bute there is just not the provision of one bedroomed properties available that people can move to.
“The Association is also concerned that some people may feel that they have to leave communities that they were born and brought up in to be able to afford housing.”
ACHA’s chief executive, Alastair MacGregor, commented: “Like many housing associations across Scotland we made representations to the Westminster Government concerning these proposals. We believe that the current “safeguards” through discretionary housing payments do not provide sufficient resources to protect people and the reality is that many already vulnerable people are going to run up rent arrears.
“This is neither healthy for them or their landlords.
“The Association supports the call by the Scottish Federation of Housing Associations and others to repeal the ‘bedroom tax’.”