SFHA calls on Scottish Government to commit funds to preparing vulnerable tenants for no-deal Brexit

According to Scottish Government figures, 130,000 Scottish households could potentially find themselves in poverty after a no-deal Brexit

  • SFHA states it is committed to working with the Scottish Government to support vulnerable Scottish tenants in the event of a chaotic, unplanned Brexit
  • Deputy first minister John Swinney says that a rapid poverty mitigation fund may be put towards discretionary housing payments or those experiencing food insecurity or fuel poverty
  • SFHA says that no funding has been committed to advice services for threatened households, nor has any plan to deliver these services been laid out by the Scottish Government

THE Scottish Federation of Housing Associations (SFHA) has called on the Scottish Government to commit greater planning and funding to the delivery of support to the 130,000 households which may find themselves in poverty in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

Earlier this week, the SFHA expressed its commitment to working with the Scottish Government to deliver support for vulnerable tenants in Scotland in the event of an unplanned and disorderly exit from the European Union.

The necessity of this was based on the estimation that any increase in the cost of living following Brexit will likely most effect the poorest in society, and particularly those in rural and remote areas. The tenants of housing associations and co-operatives are often on lower incomes, and Scottish Government figures suggest a no-deal Brexit could result in an additional 130,000 households experiencing poverty.

The SFHA this week requested that the Scottish Government provide funding for partnerships between housing associations and support organisations to ensure wrap-around advice and support – including financial inclusion and welfare rights services – for tenants, especially those on the lowest incomes and those with care and support needs.

READ MORE: Housing Association representatives welcome Scottish Labour's new public land purchase policy

Concerns were also raised about post-Brexit fuel supply, as many social landlords’ care and repairs teams use vehicles to maintain regular contact with tenants, as well as their safety and security. The SFHA asked that the Scottish Government ensure Scotland’s housing associations and co-operatives are included in any continuity plans to deal with potential fuel shortages.

Commenting, SFHA chief executive Sally Thomas said: “The prolonged uncertainty about arrangements for leaving the EU is causing concern for our members regarding the detrimental impact this could have on their tenants. For this reason, we have asked the Scottish Government to deliver measures that will protect the poorest and most vulnerable people.

“Many support agencies do not have a presence across the whole of Scotland, including rural and remote areas, but housing associations do and this is why they are well placed to work with other organisations to ensure tenants can access the advice they need. However, in order to do this, it is vital that the Scottish Government makes funding available.

“We recently met with the Cabinet Secretary for Communities and Local Government Aileen Campbell and Housing Minister Kevin Stewart to discuss mitigating the effects of Brexit and welcomed this opportunity to discuss our members’ concerns.

“The Scottish Government’s own assessments show an additional 130,000 households could find themselves in poverty in the event of a no-deal exit, therefore, we urgently need a plan in place in order to deliver these advice services.” SFHA head of policy Polly Jones

“SFHA and our members will work with the Scottish Government to ensure those who require support in the event of a no-deal Brexit can access it.”

In a statement to Holyrood yesterday [9 October] laying out the Scottish Government’s preparations for the possibility of a no-deal Brexit, deputy First Minister John Swinney said: "We are putting in place a plan to establish a £7 million rapid poverty mitigation fund. In the event of a no-deal exit, the fund will be allocated to local authorities so that the people who are most in need can get support quickly and efficiently. That may be through the Scottish welfare fund, discretionary housing payments or particular help with food insecurity or fuel poverty."

In response to this, the SFHA’s head of membership and policy Polly Jones told CommonSpace that the Scottish Government has not yet committed any funding to the advice services that may be required by the 130,000 Scottish households potentially affected by a no-deal Brexit, nor had it laid out a plan for the delivery of such services.

READ MORE: Study finds inappropriate housing provision causes emotional distress for disabled Scots

Jones said: “SFHA is keen to work with Scottish Government in facilitating additional advice and support services for those who require them after Brexit. Housing associations are well placed to deliver advice services locally to those who find themselves in need post-Brexit as they have a presence across the whole of Scotland and existing relationships within communities.

“The Scottish Government’s own assessments show an additional 130,000 households could find themselves in poverty in the event of a no-deal exit, therefore, we urgently need a plan in place in order to deliver these advice services. However, the Scottish Government has not yet committed any funding for this and adequate resources will be vital. Although many housing associations already provide advice and support services to tenants, funding would be required to allow for any additional provision as a result of increased need.

“SFHA has proposed to the Scottish Government that the flagship Money Talk Team model, currently being rolled out, be extended to include funding for housing associations to deliver additional advice and support services to meet any increased need.”

Picture courtesy of Christophe Becker

CommonSpace is entirely funded by small, regular donations from you: our readers. Become a sustaining supporter today.