Anger at impact of welfare reforms

Activists burn the Welfare Reform paper  in protest at cuts
Activists burn the Welfare Reform paper in protest at cuts

Midlothian Council will write to Westminster after agreeing one-off funding of £120,000 to pay for direct lets caused by welfare reforms.

This payment was agreed at the latest full council meeting in light of the funding gap which has emerged between local authority statutory homelessness responsibilities in Scotland and reduced benefits as part of the UK Government’s welfare changes. This has led to the council’s private sector leasing contract with Orchard and Shipman being no longer financially viable, and this will end in November.

Midlothian Council will now adjust its permanent and temporary housing stock to replace the 165 private sector leasing properties.

It is anticipated that rents and service charges received would cover the rental and additional costs incurred, however one-off funding of £120,000 would be required to initially furnish the properties to a reasonable standard.

Angry councillors condemned the Welfare Reforms introduced by the Conservative UK Government.

Councillor Kelly Parry (SNP) said: “I’m particularly concerned about this subject.

“This is a system dressed up as getting people back into work, but it treats people quite inhumanely in my own opinion, particularly around assessments.

“I was particularly concerned that in this paper we are talking about a risk to the housing revenue account.

“This is essentially because of what’s happening at Westminster and some of those reforms. Because of that we should send some sort of correspondence to the minister responsible for this nonsense. And let him know that not only are we seeing the devastating effects of these reforms on our constituents, it is also now impacting on the way the council runs itself.

“I think we are doing what we can but I think we could do more. And we should stand up for our residents and make sure we send a strong message that this is devastating.”

As well as agreeing to the one-off funding of £120,000 to furnish the direct lets properties, councillors will reconvene their Welfare sub-group and write to the Welfare minister at Westminster.