Call for clarity over welfare that could hit women’s refuges

Fears over welfare changes that could hit women's refuges
Fears over welfare changes that could hit women’s refuges

HOUSING BENEFIT CHANGES brought forward by the UK Government could have a catastrophic impact on women’s refuges according to a Scottish Government minister.

The cabinet secretary for Social Justice, Alex Neil, has made the warning that capping social housing rents could result in a loss of thousands of pounds for each of the centres – including Moray.

Scottish Women’s Aid have a Moray rescue centre based in Elgin – and the charity have claimed that the UK Government plans would result in an annual loss that put it and all their Scottish centres in danger.

The charity says that the proposals to extend the local housing allowance (LHA) would have a devastating impact on the future provision of women’s accommodation in Scotland – where all such accommodation is in the ownership of either housing associations or local authorities.

Now Alex Neil has raised the issue with the UK welfare minister Lord Freud, seeking urgent clarification of the changes due to be introduced in April 2018, as he fears that supported accommodation for homeless people and the disabled could be hit.

Mr Neil said: “This proposal is essentially a cap to the amount of housing benefit housing social and council tenants will receive, and, what is still not clear is how far this gap will go when it comes to the most vulnerable living in refuge accommodation.”

Scottish Women’s Aid’s chief executive Dr Marsha Scott said: “Without the existing level of housing benefit to cover costs, refuges will be forced to close.”