Borders gets housing benefits boost

An extra £669,031 is coming Scottish Borders Council’s way so they can help people whose housing benefit has been reduced because of the so-called bedroom tax.

The Scottish Government has a £20 million pot to be shared by local authorities to mitigate the impact of the new housing benefit rules that mean people only get housing benefit for the number of bedrooms the UK Government say they need.

It is estimated that around 1100 homes in the Borders are affected and while some people may be prepared to move to smaller homes, there currently aren’t enough smaller homes to go round.

An SBC spokesperson said: “This is very welcome news. Scottish Borders Council has been working jointly with local housing associations and Citizens Advice to target help to the people who need it.

“Members of staff have been working extremely hard to deal with these changes and this additional funding will enable us to work more closely with those people affected, and provide further financial assistance through the transition.

“There are around 1,000 homes in the Borders affected by the removal of the spare room subsidy in the social sector.

“Additional financial assistance has already been given to 20 per cent of those households. Anyone who is having difficulties in paying their rent should contact SBC on 0300 100 1800 for advice on Discretionary Housing Payments.”

Graeme Brown, director of Shelter Scotland, said: “Shelter Scotland encourages anyone in the Scottish Borders who is struggling with their rent as a result of welfare reform to apply for discretionary housing payments and for those who applied and were turned down before this money was made available, to reapply.”