Speaking in the Scottish Parliament debate on homelessness on Thursday, Shona Robison, SNP MSP for Dundee City East, highlighted the negative impact of Universal Credit on homelessness, especially for women in abusive relationships. She also praised the continuing work of the Scottish Government, local authorities and third sector organizations across Scotland and in Dundee on stopping homelessness.
Acknowledging the many challenges to ending homelessness in Scotland, Robison noted the admirable work of Shelter Scotland and their important role in preventing and stopping homelessness. Shelter Scotland turned 50 years old this year, and Robison recently met with Shelter Scotland in Dundee to discuss challenges they still face fighting homelessness in Dundee.
Shona Robison expressly singled out two of those remaining obstacles to stopping homelessness: Universal Credit and domestic violence.
In Dundee, people on Universal Credit owe on average £200 more in rent arrears than those on other benefits.
And Robison additionally highlighted the lack of split payments on Universal Credit unless one requests them through a process for getting alternative arrangements. By sending the payments to one account instead of splitting it between a couple, Robison argued that this facilitates financial abuse in abusive relationships. By allowing the housing benefits to be in the hands of an abusive partner, this can put victims of abuse in a precarious housing position.
Domestic violence or an abusive relationship is the largest reason women give for making a homelessness application, according to Scottish Women’s Aid.
Speaking in the debate, Robison said:
“Shelter Scotland is turning 50 this year and I recently met with Shelter Scotland in Dundee to discuss issues still remaining on their 50th anniversary. By providing advice and support they help thousands of people across Scotland every year.”
“Many Scots have been hit hard by Universal Credit. Benefit cuts, sanctions, long waiting periods, all make it hard for people to get by, putting pressure on many to balance housing costs with other necessities.”
“We have to listen to the overwhelming evidence that this failed system is pushing people out of their homes, into the houses of friends, into hostels or onto the streets.”
“While there is more to be done, by acknowledging and planning to address problems we can start to work towards a better future, where everyone has a safe affordable home.”
NOTES TO EDITORS:
Link to the speech: