Housing associations say the bedroom tax is impacting on their ability to support homeless people
A survey has found over a quarter of housing associations believe welfare reforms have impacted on their ability to rehouse homeless people.
The Scottish Federation of Housing Associations (SFHA) found two out of three associations had seen an increase in the number of tenants looking for a transfer to another property.
Of the associations surveyed, 26% said they "believe the increased number of downsizing requests have impacted upon their ability to rehouse homeless households".
It's clear the odds of these households being able to secure and sustain a suitable tenancy are being increasingly stacked against them - David Ogilvie
The SFHA questioned a total of 42 housing associations about whether there was a link between welfare reform and homelessness in Scotland in October 2013.
Its report stated: "After implementation of the 'bedroom tax', two in three housing associations have experienced an increase in the number of requests for transfers, but many qualified that this is only a slight increase because for the most part tenants want to stay in their homes.
SFHA policy manager David Ogilvie said: "We are seriously concerned about how welfare reforms are impacting upon homeless households taking up new tenancies. It's abundantly clear that the odds of these households being able to secure and sustain a suitable tenancy are being increasingly stacked against them."
Fiona King, campaign and public affairs manager at Shelter Scotland, believes the survey points to a “wider crisis”.
She added: “The SFHA report confirms our initial fears that some aspects of welfare reform - such as the unfair bedroom tax - would be counter-productive and cause more problems than they solve, such as a potential increase in homelessness.”
A spokesman for the Department for Work and Pensions said: "Our reforms are essential for returning fairness to the welfare system but we recognise some people may need additional help.
“We have provided £345m to local councils over the past two years in Discretionary Housing Payments to support vulnerable people, including £31m to Scotland.
"There is no evidence that welfare reforms are leading to an increase in homelessness."