New North Ayrshire fund established to help those struggling with Covid rent arrears
Around £300,000 has been made available to people across North Ayrshire struggling with rent arrears as a result of the Covid-19 crisis.
At a meeting of cabinet, elected members rubber-stamped the new Coronavirus Tenant Grant Fund to provide assistance to private and social-rented tenants.
It will help those who are struggling with rent arrears and who could consequently be at risk of homelessness. The money will be used to directly reduce or pay off rent arrears accumulated between 23 March 2020 and 9 August 2021.
North Ayrshire Council will also help reduce the remaining arrears in their properties by matching the payments made by the tenant. For example, if a tenant has arrears of £1000 and receives £500 from the Fund, the council will work with the tenant to clear the arrears and make a contribution of £250, along with the tenant’s £250, to make up the balance.
Arrears after this period will only be covered in exceptional circumstances, where the local authority is satisfied that arrears relate to the continued impact of pandemic restrictions.
Councillor Joe Cullinane, leader of North Ayrshire Council, said: “So many people, from all walks of life, have been directly impacted by the pandemic through no fault of their own.
“The threat of being left homeless is a desperately worrying situation and I know from my own casework that more people than before are facing that threat as a result of the pandemic.
“As a social landlord, North Ayrshire Council is committed to supporting all our tenants and will continue to do so.
“But nobody in the 21st century, regardless of housing tenure, should be without a roof over their head. North Ayrshire Council will strive to ensure that everyone in North Ayrshire is awarded this basic human right and we will seek to use the Coronavirus Tenant Grant Fund as an important tool to do that.”
The Scottish Government committed £10 million to the fund, with the money distributed amongst Scotland’s local authorities.
The administration of the fund will, in the main, mirror the established process for assessing Discretionary Housing Payments. In addition, the following rules will apply:
- Consideration will be given to other solutions (Discretionary Housing Payments, income maximisation, payment arrangement) before approving any grant award
- The grant provided will be 50% of the arrears accrued in the qualifying period, up to a maximum of £1000.
The fund is open from Tuesday 7 December 2021.