Housing assistance

Housing assistance will be a new Scottish benefit. It will be paid to people who get universal credit and who need extra help with rent in very specific circumstances.

Timeline

June 2018      Social Security (Scotland) Act 2018

Sets out framework rules for housing assistance

To follow         Consultation on regulations

Overview of housing assistance

When it's introduced, you could get housing assistance in two specific circumstances:

  • You're not entitled to the housing costs element of universal credit because you're aged 18 to 21.
  • When the Scottish Government stops the bedroom tax being applied to universal credit, your award is reduced by the benefit cap instead.
Eligibility if you're aged 18 to 21

If you're aged 18 to 21, you can only get help with your rent through universal credit in certain circumstances such as having a child or a disability. The UK Government has said they will change this so that anyone aged 18 to 21 could qualify for help with their rent through universal credit.

In the meantime if you're aged 18 to 21 you can get help with your housing costs through the Scottish Welfare Fund.

If the law isn't changed to allow you to get help with rent through universal credit, the Scottish Government will pay housing assistance instead.

Eligibility if you're affected by the bedroom tax or benefit cap

The bedroom tax affects people renting from a local authority or housing association who get universal credit to help pay the rent. If you've got more bedrooms than the rules say you need, your universal credit is reduced. You can apply for discretionary housing payments from your local authority to help pay the rent.

The Scottish Government now has the power to decide how much help with rent people can get in universal credit.  It says that it will no longer make bedroom tax reductions. This isn't expected to happen before 2020 because of changes needed to the universal credit system to make it possible.

When the change is made and there are no bedroom tax reductions, some people will see their extra universal credit reduced by the benefit cap instead. They could get housing assistance from Social Security Scotland to make up the difference. It will be paid with their universal credit.

The bedroom tax also affects people under pension credit age who get housing benefit. The Scottish Government doesn't have power over housing benefit. You can apply for discretionary housing payments from your local authority to help pay the rent.