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Chamber and committees

Meeting date: Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Meeting of the Parliament 19 February 2019

Agenda: Time for Reflection, Topical Question Time, Brexit (Response to European Union Exit Vote in Westminster), Scottish Rate Resolution, Social Security Committee Announcement, Decision Time, St Rollox Railway Works


Social Security Committee Announcement

The Presiding Officer (Ken Macintosh)

Members will recall that the commission on parliamentary reform proposed that time be set aside during plenary meetings for announcements from committees. In that context, I am pleased to call Bob Doris, convener of the Social Security Committee, to make an announcement on the committee’s inquiry into social security support for housing.


Bob Doris (Glasgow Maryhill and Springburn) (SNP)

As convener of the Social Security Committee, I announce that we have launched an inquiry into social security support for housing. We want to explore how changes to the social security system are impacting on both tenants and landlords.

It is not just the most vulnerable people in society who can find themselves in difficulty because of the rising gap between housing rents and the amount that is provided by the social security system, but also people who are in work. We know that there are pressures on social housing stock. An area that should be able to ease some of those pressures is the private rented sector. As part of the inquiry, we will look at the extent to which the social security system assists or hinders those who are in need of private rented accommodation in Scotland.

In February last year, the Local Government and Communities Committee explored some of the issues around welfare reform in its “Report on Homelessness”. In the report, Shelter said that:

“the roll-out of welfare reforms and universal credit were creating a complicated landscape to navigate”.

The Social Security Committee will explore in more detail some of the impacts of those welfare reforms as they relate to housing, including universal credit and the local housing allowance, and how our newly devolved powers can contribute to the discussion.

To inform our views, we are engaging with stakeholders, organisations and people with lived experience to answer five key questions.

How have changes to the local housing allowance impacted on the private rented sector, particularly regarding the affordability of rents for young people?

To what extent have United Kingdom welfare reform measures impacted on private landlords’ willingness to let to those who are in receipt of social security benefits?

How does the administration of universal credit housing costs impact on the ability of tenants to pay their rent and landlords to administer rent payments?

How do universal credit Scottish choices and discretionary housing payments impact on the way that landlords and tenants handle universal credit housing costs?

Finally, in relation to those four questions, what improvements could be made to reserved and devolved systems, including the way that they interact with each other?

Our committee would welcome MSPs sharing the details of our inquiry with interested stakeholders, constituents and networks whose input they feel would be valuable, particularly those who have lived experience.

Thank you, Presiding Officer, for the opportunity to address the chamber about this most important inquiry.