Gavin Newlands, MP for Paisley and Renfrewshire North, took part in a debate in Parliament on Wednesday on the UK Government’s intended cuts to housing benefit for vulnerable people in specialist housing, including people fleeing domestic violence.
It was announced in the Autumn Statement 2015 that Housing Benefit claimants living in dwellings rented from a social landlord would face future restrictions on the amount of Housing Benefit they would receive. The government is planning to cap the amount of rent that Housing Benefit will cover in the social sector to the relevant Local Housing Allowance. This would have a significant impact on people living in supported housing, such as sheltered housing and refuges, which have higher costs due to the specific nature of supporting housing to meet the residents’ needs.
Organisations such as Women’s Aid ad Scottish Women’s Aid have stated that this would create additional barriers and risks for women and children experiencing domestic abuse seeking refuge, and have warned that that lives will be lost unless a more secure and long-term funding settlement is in place for refuges.
Gavin Newlands said: “These absolutely vital services must be protected. It is clear that without the current levels of housing benefit to cover the additional costs, refuges will be forced to close.”
“I strongly urge the government to reconsider its approach, and offer full protection for these vulnerable people by ensuring that supported accommodation, including refuges, are exempt from the housing benefit cap.
“We cannot be put in a position where a person is unable to flee a violent relationship because they can’t afford the accommodation costs in a refuge.”