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More than £2bn in housing benefits paid to private landlords in Scotland

Private landlords north of the border have received more than £2bn in housing benefit over the past five years, new figures show.

According to fresh data from Scottish Labour, on average, a quarter of all housing benefits have gone to private landlords since 2011/12.

Labour said the figures underlined the SNP’s failure to tackle the housing crisis, and called for greater investment in Scotland’s private rented sector. 


The data has also prompted Mid Scotland and Fife MSP Alex Rowley to call for action from the Scottish government.

He said: “I have been calling on the government for some time to address what is evidently a housing crisis spiralling out of control across Scotland.”

Aside from the fact that 25% of housing benefits is going to private landlords,  the average private rented sector rent has rocketed by 14% since 2010.

“Money that is spent on housing benefits should be used to support those that need it, whereas instead we are seeing that money end up in the pockets of private landlords,” he added.

“That is why I want to see a reform of the private rented sector to ban rip-off rent rises.”


Rowley believes that significantly more homes need to be built to help address the problem, and that was why he had been calling for a national house build plan.

In response, the Scottish government has defended its track record on housing delivery.

A spokesperson said: “We have an excellent track record on housing and are committed to achieving sustainable, long-term solutions to address housing issues.

“In the previous session of Parliament, we exceeded our target of delivering 30,000 affordable homes by 10%, and our bold and ambitious More Homes Scotland approach will build on that achievement.

 “We have committed to investing over £3bn to deliver at least 50,000 affordable homes over the next five years and by ending Right to Buy we are protecting up to 15,000 social homes for sale over the next 10 years and safeguarding this stock for future generations.

“This is accompanied by increased housing subsidy levels and a new rural and islands housing fund to increase the supply of affordable rural housing.”

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    As a landlord, I really resent the language used by politicians and the press when referring to private landlords. 'Private landlords POCKETED 2bn in rent.' Like there is something unsavoury about charging for what is essentially a service.

    'Money should be spent on people in need rather than ending up in the pockets of private landlords.' In other words, private landlords are robbing the public purse rather than fulfilling the need which presumably is housing for social tenants. Something which in reality is the council's responsibility and which they clearly fail to fulfill.

    So let me just say that, as a landlord, I run a business. I provide a service. That service comes at a price. We call this price 'rent'. Unlike a lot of public services (NHS, Police, Rubbish collection) I am not forcing anyone to use or indeed pay for this service. If you don't like it, don't use it. Everybody has a choice.

    This being the case, I am heartily sick of the constant finger pointing and name-calling currently being flung out by politicians, the leftie liberal press (I'm looking at you, BBC) and pointless pressure groups like Shelter.

    When I see any of the above actually housing a single person, they can venture an opinion. Until then, I suggest they get back in their box.

    Rant over.

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    M Goe - Totally agree, the article and comments from that no mark (Alex Rowley) shows how far labour are out of touch. They tried all this at the last election along with the ZERO hour contract and guess what... If failed... So instead of moving on, its being dusted down again. What he may want to spend his time doing is finding out how many homes this 2bn covered. It would be a good gauge to let him know how many homes they are short. However, if he was to put pressure on creating work for people, then there would be no need for HB to be paid. Getting people into work is a better way of reducing this bill, not making out landlords who provide a vital service that government can't are in some way stealing this money.

    Clearly Labour are still out of touch

    Clearly this guy, just like the current housing minister (SNP) has no idea about this subject.

  • G romit

    @ M Goe

    Too true, and well put.

    It's funny how the BBC and the other media do not vilify Tesco et al for "pocketing" the benefits paid to the poor in order to buy food.

    Politicians and pressure groups like Shelter & Crisis love grabbing the populist headlines by bashing Landlords, and support policies like Sec.24 despite the fact that such measures will ultimately cause more misery to the very people they purport to be helping. It is they who should be pilloried not the people who are providing the solution.

  • G romit

    Shame on "Landlord Today" for putting out such a one-sided anti-Landlord article.

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    We won't be 'pocketing' the money soon as many tenants on benefits will be evicted because of Section 24. They won't be able to say it anymore! Instead, they will start begging private landlords to invest more and take on more benefit tenants and they'll probably start offering incentives! These politicians really don't know their a from their e.

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    Rebecca, you are spot on in your assessment. Councils, govt, the left generally - all arehappy to slag us off publicly for 'pocketing' (whatever that is supposed to imply) whilst simultaneously complaining locally that no landlords will assist with housing LHA! Proudly tell them why you refuse to help - its because you'll only be attacked if you do! Whenever I get slagged off for the Housing bill, I confound everyone by proudly and excitedly explaining that I flatly refuse to house certain groups in order to avoid that exact scenario - that usually wipes the smile off their faces!

    As for 'pocketing', what were the contractors doing when they charged £141,000 for a single speed hump? What were large contractors doing when they charged £10,000 per house to supply and fit the cheapest trade 8-cabinet kitchens to council houses? What was a plastics supplier doing charging the NHS 35x the true cost of disposable tweezers? Nobody even mentions any of these examples - they're all welcome and necessary suppliers!!!!!!

    Really, you couldn't make this up!

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    Fortunately James you do not have to make it up, government legislation and detest for the private landlord has done all the storytelling for us. You have to admit that politicians have done a good job in vilifying landlords, making everybody despise them and taxing them out of existence, effectively preventing the housing of benefit tenants. Colloquially it is called shooting yourself in the foot.

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    Landlords in some areas get well below the market rent in housing benefit so the government save millions. Plus the landlord picks up the tab for trashed properties and rent arrears when the tenants dont pay.

    When the government have driven out all LHA landlords due to disgusting policies and decieving the public with lies to paint landlords as scum. Purely political move then expect the LHA bill to be 3 fold with the cost of hostels and BB.

    Dont forget the amount of money which the landlord gives back in using local trades and tax.
    Maybe one day someone will actually look at the true figures and costs

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    Councils had houses and then they sold them all off. They created a housing shortage as they no longer had enough homes to house the needy families. Landlords fill a void and without Landlords there would not be enough accommodation to house people and many would be homeless. Let us not forget Landlords pay tax on earnings so contribute to economy.


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