Removing Housing benefit for under 25s would hit 20,000 Scots children


Stopping housing benefit for people aged under 25 would affect over 20,000 children in Scotland, figures released today show.

Analysis of figures obtained from the Department of Work and Pensions reveal that there are 20,059 children in the 32,700 households in Scotland who would be hit if the benefit was stopped. Following the analysis, Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has written to Iain Duncan Smith to set out the implications for Scotland and request a meeting to discuss any proposals.

Ms Sturgeon said:

“We are closely monitoring any impacts of welfare reforms in Scotland. Earlier this week George Osborne set out his view that – on the Treasury’s current forecasts – £12 billion of further welfare cuts are needed in the first two years of the next Parliament. He also talked about plans to stop housing benefit for people aged 25 and under.

“Our analysis shows that if housing benefit were to be removed for all under 25s, over 20,000 children in Scotland would suffer as a result.

“My main concern is the risk that this cut would pose to the 20,000 children who would need to be rehoused and would face the prospect of being made homeless. As well as the impact on the children and families affected, the social and economic cost would far outweigh any savings that may be achieved.

“We note the argument – not least in respect of the bedroom tax – that housing benefit expenditure has been growing. However, the growth in housing benefit expenditure is not of Scotland’s making. Over the decade to 2011/12, in inflation adjusted terms, the increase across Great Britain is 54 per cent – and 93 per cent of this increase is attributable to England, and 31 per cent to London alone. In Scotland, the total cost of Housing Benefit has increased by 22 per cent in inflation adjusted terms, while for the Scottish social rented sector, the increase was only 6 per cent.

“We have seen that when decisions on Scotland’s welfare system are taken in Westiminster they have negative impacts on our people and families. That is why we want descions about things that affect Scottish people taken in Scotland – by people who live and work here.

“We want a welfare system based on the clear principles of fairness and dignity that fosters a climate of social solidarity.

“Our Expert Working Group on Welfare is considering these and other principles as it explores how the benefits system should enable people who can work to move into sustained employment, and how it can support people who can’t work to participate in society as fully as possible. The recommendations of the Expert Working Group will be available in the Spring and so well in advance of the referendum in order to further inform the debate.”