Dunedin Canmore Housing Association leads way on direct payments in Scotland

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Dunedin Canmore Housing Association (DCHA) announced today it will be the first social landlord in Scotland to take part in a new UK wide scheme which will see housing benefit paid directly to tenants.

The Direct Payment Demonstration project will see many Dunedin Canmore tenants directly receiving monthly housing benefit payments – and paying rent to their landlord themselves for the first time.

Dunedin Canmore working with The City of Edinburgh Council will join partnerships in England and Wales to test direct payment ahead of the introduction of Universal Credit in October 2013.

Projects will test when tenants are ready to receive a direct payment to pay rent for them and how much support they will need to help manage their finances.

The scheme will also look at safeguards needed to help secure landlord income streams if tenants fall behind on their rent.

Graeme Russell, Housing Services Director at Dunedin Canmore said offering tenants the chance to receive direct payments reflected Dunedin’s commitment to promoting better financial inclusion for tenants.

He said:  “We have absolutely no doubt that the impending changes to welfare benefits and the implications of direct payments will have a profound impact on tenants and RSLs.

“Taking part in this project allows us to be proactive. We can drive change and help bring about a culture change. At Dunedin we believe it’s important to encourage financial independence and responsibility. If tenants take responsibility it will foster a sense of citizenship and help build stronger communities.”

The Edinburgh based social landlord says taking part in the project will also assist Scottish registered social landlords (RSLs) to prepare for the implementation of Universal Credit. Graeme continued,
 
“We have adopted a pragmatic approach in putting ourselves forward to participate in the demonstration project. The introduction of Direct Payments under Universal Credit is going to happen. So preparation is key to the future resilience of the sector.”

Minister for Welfare Reform Lord Freud said:

“Direct benefit payments are essential for Universal Credit so families can break cycles of welfare dependency and can move smoothly from monthly benefit payments to monthly pay packets.

“Dunedin Canmore’s involvement along with projects in England and Wales will help us understand the support tenants need and shape the help available across the country when Universal Credit is introduced next year.”

The Scottish project will start in July and demonstration projects in England and Wales will take place from June 2012 until June 2013.