Council refuses to pass on uplift in Housing Benefit to Right There as Scottish Government prepares to declare a housing emergency

Right There has been forced to end its contract with City of Edinburgh Council to provide critical housing in three locations for some of the city’s most vulnerable residents.

This is its ‘absolute worst case scenario’, and ‘a last resort’ but after months of trying to negotiate with the Council, housing bosses are refusing to pass on its uplift in housing benefit to increase the Housing Management Payment.

The Housing Management Payment has remained unchanged since 2019 despite the cost of living skyrocketing in that time. Over the last five years, the local authority has received increased housing benefit which it refuses to pass on to providers to help deal with increased costs of running an assisted housing programme.

The housing facilities facing closure are one in Broomhouse and two residential units in Pilton. Their closure comes after the local authority failed to engage with the charity on contractual terms over recent weeks. It will build pressure on the Council’s administration after a housing emergency was declared in the capital in November of last year, now even more so with the Scottish Government expected to announce a national housing emergency.

Janet Haugh, CEO of Right There said: “We are devastated that we are having to pull the plug on this service, this is our absolute worst case scenario, especially when Scotland is at the brink of a national housing crisis. We have done everything in our power to resolve this with the Council but sadly as a charity we simply cannot absorb a projected £2.5 million deficit over the next five years and continue running this service.”

Housing Benefit levels have increased across Scotland to reflect the increased cost of living, utilities and general inflationary increases. Despite that, the Council expects Right There to subsidise the cost of an essential service despite being in receipt of additional payments to which the residents are entitled.

The project run by Right There provides accommodation support for 44 of Edinburgh’s most vulnerable people, who live with the consequences of family breakdowns, homelessness, poverty, addiction, and many other challenges. In addition, the jobs of 19 support workers are now at risk.

Janet Haugh added: “We have exhausted all avenues with the Council and bringing the contract to a conclusion by triggering the three months’ notice period is our last resort. Our priority now is to work with the Council to hand over the running of the programme to either the local authority or another provider to ensure as much continuity and as little distress as possible for the 44 residents affected, and the support workers whose jobs are at risk.”

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