Tenants urged to take up rent payment help

Posted on 21/11/2013 by


Nearly half the Council tenants in Edinburgh subject to the UK Government’s under-occupancy charge – better known as the ‘bedroom tax’ –  have not applied for extra help to pay their rent despite facing growing arrears and debt, it’s been revealed.

Almost 3,000 Council tenants are under-occupying their home and face paying between £14 and £25 per week as their housing benefit doesn’t pay for their extra room, but only around 1,500 of these tenants have applied for extra help available from the Council through Discretionary Housing Payments.

The Council was awarded extra funds from the Scottish Government in September this year, bringing the total available for Discretionary Housing Payments to over £3 million.

Recent figures from the Council’s housing service showed an estimated £1.25 million of arrears are attributable to people not paying the under-occupancy charge, which has been dubbed the ‘bedroom tax’.

City Housing Leader Councillor Cammy Day said yesterday: “It’s critical that hard-pressed tenants seek the extra help the Council is offering in the form of Discretionary Housing Payments, otherwise they face getting deeper into debt.

“Staff from the Council and advice agencies have been holding special surgeries and writing to, visiting and calling tenants over the last few months but ultimately tenants need to apply for the assistance available or they will lose out. I would urge any tenant who hasn’t yet applied for extra help to get in touch with their local housing office without delay.”

The under-occupancy charge was introduced to encourage tenants with a spare room to move to a smaller home. On average there is only ever one single bedroom property available to let for every 80 under-occupying households in the city.

Council tenants affected by the under-occupancy charge are encouraged to contact or call in to their local housing office for advice.cooncilhooses