Covid Scotland: 'No progress' on tenant hardship grant fund for renters struggling due to pandemic

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The SNP’s failure to provide £20 million of funding to tenants quickly has been criticised by the Scottish Conservatives.

Ministers have been under pressure to show they are adequately supporting private and social rented sector tenants who may be struggling with rent arrears due to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

However, with just over £550,000 of a tenant hardship loan fund being handed out to 207 tenants after its launch in December 2020 and an additional £10m grant fund yet to hand out any money, the response was criticised by the Scottish Conservatives.

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The Scottish Conservatives have criticised the Scottish Government's approach to helping tenants in need.The Scottish Conservatives have criticised the Scottish Government's approach to helping tenants in need.
The Scottish Conservatives have criticised the Scottish Government's approach to helping tenants in need.

In response to a letter from Conservatives housing spokesperson Miles Briggs, Cabinet secretary for housing Shona Robison said the grant fund – announced in June – was being “developed at pace”.

Defending the government’s approach, she said the fund would “add another layer of support” and claimed details of how it would operate would be announced “in due course”.

Reacting, Mr Briggs said: “This response from the Cabinet secretary doesn’t come close to explaining why just over five per cent of a £10m hardship fund has gone to supporting tenants.

“SNP ministers have received unprecedented funding to support Scotland through Covid-19 and it has been used ineffectively.

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“Their has been no progress made on delivering the Tenant Hardship Loan and Shona Robison’s idea of being developed at pace is different to most peoples.

“It is time that SNP ministers put their money where their mouth is and started supporting people across Scotland who are struggling to pay their rent.”

Figures show out of 1,009 applicants, applications from only 207 were approved at a value of £558,295 with an average loan of £2,697.

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “There is no single solution to this issue and the loan fund is a part of a broader effort to support those facing difficulties, including extended notice periods and introduction of pre-action requirements that make clear how landlords should support tenants who are struggling.

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“We want renters to access the most appropriate form of financial support and the criteria for the scheme aims to protect renters from taking on debt they cannot afford.

“Our forthcoming £10m tenant grant scheme will support tenants who have fallen behind on rent as a result of Covid and who are in the most need.”

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