‘No time to waste’ on tenant hardship grant, says Labour’s Mark Griffin
Scottish Labour’s housing spokesperson Mark Griffin has written to housing secretary Shona Robison to demand that the Scottish Government move faster to get the Tenant Hardship Grant Scheme up and running.
The Tenant Hardship Grant Fund was announced on June 22, during a Holyrood debate on Covid legislation – but two months on no further details have been made available.
In his letter, the MSP said: “It has been three months since the evictions ban ended, and two months since the grant scheme was announced – but tenants are still waiting.
“We are already seeing the effects of the end of the evictions ban, with evictions in the social rented sector increasing six-fold last quarter. This is a matter of urgency.
“The Tenant Hardship Loan Scheme is woefully inadequate. Not only is its success rate dismal, but ultimately forcing tenants to pay off debt with more debt is not a sustainable solution. The grant scheme must be set up as a matter of urgency.
“Hundreds of applicants have been rejected or refused from the loan scheme – more than twice as many as were successful – and many of these rejections were the result of failed credit checks.
“It is not unreasonable to comprehend that renters who were in such a dire financial position that they were in arrears, and seeking support from the government, may not have satisfactory credit records.
“Given the scale of refusals, it is imperative that a process of actively reviewing refused or rejected loan applications is undertaken and those refused assessed for suitability under the grant scheme.”
Accusing the government of “abandoning tenants” by failing to put a grant scheme in place before the end of the evictions ban, Mr Griffin added: “The complete lack of urgency the SNP have shown in getting lifeline support to tenants simply beggars belief. Since the evictions ban was scrapped tenants have been left in limbo for months, without that legal protection or proper financial support.
“All the SNP has offered so far is their loan scheme, which forces tenants to pay off debt with more debt – and most can’t even access that.
“They are abandoning tenants and the consequences of these shameful decisions will lie squarely at their door.
“We are facing a tidal wave of evictions if we do not act. There is no time to waste.”
A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “Details of the £10m grant fund scheme, designed to help tenants who have been financially impacted by the pandemic, are being developed at pace and we will provide further information in due course.
“The grant scheme is additional to our £10m Tenant Loan Fund.”