The Scottish Association of Landlords (SAL) is calling for an urgent overhaul of how universal credit is paid, with most landlords north of the border wanting to see the housing element of the benefit paid directly to them instead of the tenant.
A new report of the Social Security Committee of the Scottish Parliament recommends that the default position should be that the housing portion of Universal Credit be paid directly to landlords, be that private or social.
The body said this would ensure that those on Universal Credit have equal access to accommodation as opposed to the current situation which sees some landlords reluctant to rent to those on Universal Credit because of potential delays in rent being paid.
But unfortunately the Scottish government refuses to support the measure which most experts believe would increase the availability of private rented homes for those on Universal Credit.
John Blackwood, chief executive of SAL, said: “As the Cabinet Secretary for Social Security and Older People stated during her evidence, we agree that social security is a human right. This is why we support any measure which ensures those receiving Universal Credit are treated equally and have the same access to housing as everyone else.
“The reluctance of the Scottish government to support a simple measure which would help achieve that is deeply disappointing.
“What we are proposing, and the committee report agrees with, is that the default position would be that the housing component of Universal Credit is paid directly to the landlord, private or social, but the tenant would still be able to opt-out if they wanted. This would reduce the risk to landlords of renting to those on Universal Credit and ensure those in receipt of benefits are treated fairly and equally as they deserve to be.
“The government is expected to formally respond to the Social Security Committee’s report over the summer and I hope they will reflect on their conclusions and join private and social landlords as well as charities and others who support this measure so together we can persuade the UK government of our case.”