Our Assistance Scheme
Following the introduction of the Under Occupancy Charge, more commonly known as the "Bedroom Tax", we have developed an Assistance Scheme to help tenants affected by the changes, which has received the full support of Govan Law Centre. The Scheme, known as the ELHA Assistance Scheme, or EAS, will see arrears caused by under occupancy charges written off for qualifying tenants.
The EAS is designed to avoid conflicts with our allocations policy, and also cases of severe hardship. For example, where a couple require separate bedrooms for medical reasons or because of a disability, the Under Occupancy Charge calculation does not consider an extra bedroom essential, whereas our allocation policy does – so a tenant could be told that they have to pay the Charge, but if they then applied to us for rehousing to a smaller house, that request would be refused because we would not consider a smaller house to be suitable for their needs.
The EAS contains "Standard" and "Discretionary" grounds on which charges can be written off. To claim, tenants need to demonstrate that they have been unsuccessful in an application for Discretionary Housing Payment, and that their circumstances are covered by the Scheme, but otherwise no lengthy application or assessment process is involved.
Our Chief Executive, Martin Pollhammer said:
"The so-called bedroom tax is wrong and should be withdrawn – it is as simple as that. But at the moment, it exists, so we have to deal with it, we cannot just ignore it."
"We feel that the EAS is a balanced and measured approach to helping our tenants deal with its worst effects, but it is also useful to us – firstly in preserving the standards we have in the way we assess the minimum amount of space a household needs, but secondly, trying to collect payments from people who patently have no means to pay them is also a waste of our time, money and resources, so is not is in our best interests as a charitable organisation".
Alistair Sharp from Govan Law Centre commented:
"Although we are campaigning for no evictions because of, and ultimately the abolition of, the ‘Bedroom Tax’, we very much welcome ELHA’s approach – it is more than just a step in the right direction, it shows an organisation with a commitment to the wellbeing of its tenants, and especially to those made vulnerable by the bedroom tax. We feel this is a model that other housing providers in Scotland should consider adopting".