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Published by Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations

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New benefit cap puts 20,000 Scottish children at risk of homelessness

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The new benefits cap will leave a significant gap between the income and rent of more than 6,000 Scottish families, a new report has found

Almost 20,000 children living in around 6,700 families across Scotland will be at risk of homelessness once a new benefit cap comes into affect this month, a new report has said.

The new limit on benefits brings down the total amount a household can receive from £26,000 to £20,000 from 7 November.

And according to the Chartered Institute of Housing, the move will impact on 6,700 families with 19,644 children living in social and private rented homes in Scotland.

Annie Mauger

We are seriously concerned that this could have a severe impact on these families, make housing in large sections of the country unaffordable and risk worsening what is already a growing homelessness problem

Annie Mauger

It will mean families will be struggle to pay their rent and could be at serious risk of losing their homes, according to the body.

CIH Scotland executive director Annie Mauger said: “The results of our research are extremely worrying. It shows that the reduction in total benefits is going to hit some of the most vulnerable families of all sizes across Scotland and the UK as a whole.

“These families will lose out when the cap comes into effect from 7 November. In many cases, they will immediately face a substantial gap between their rent and the help they receive to pay for their housing.”

The UK government says the change is being introduced to ensure families cannot claim more in benefits than they could earn by working.

However, CIH research suggests a total of 115,972 families across the whole of the UK with nearly 320,000 children will struggle to pay their rent after the change.

In Scotland a total of 164 families with one child, 1,659 families with two children, 3,478 families with three children and 1,432 families with four or more children will be affected according to CIH.

Mauger added: “We are seriously concerned that this could have a severe impact on these families, make housing in large sections of the country unaffordable and risk worsening what is already a growing homelessness problem.

"This is a measure which seriously risks undermining the UK Government’s commitment to make society fairer for families and we suggest that they look at this urgently.”

Shelter Scotland also called for the government to cancel the policy and introduce an exemption for families living in temporary accommodation, which is where local authorities house people who are homeless before permanent homes can be found.

Graeme Brown, director of Shelter Scotland, said: “Many of the families in Scotland affected by the benefit cap will be living in temporary accommodation while they wait for a permanent home. They have already been through the trauma of homelessness.

“This cap will impact on the most vulnerable households and potentially puts Scotland’s world-renowned homelessness provision under greater stress.”

A spokesman for the Department for Work and Pensions said its own calculations suggest 88,000 UK households will be affected by the new cap.

He said: “The benefit cap restores fairness to the system and the new limit will ensure the amount people on out-of-work benefits can claim better reflects the circumstances of many working families in the country.

“Even with the new cap, households can still receive benefits up the equivalent salary of £25,000 or £29,000 in London.”