Boss defends rent increase

A HOUSING boss has defended plans for a second big rent rise opposed by Glasgow tenants.

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Queen's Cross Housing Association is proposing to raise rents by 4.6% this year, on top of a 4.5% rise last year. Some tenants say this raises their pay-ments by £30 a month.

Residents have launched a campaign opposing the increase. A consultation on the plans ended last week.

However, Queen's Cross chief executive says the rise is needed to minimise the impact of Government welfare reforms and maintain services. The Under-Occupancy Rule – nicknamed the 'bedroom tax' – will cut the benefit paid to tenants who have spare bedrooms.

Housing benefit will also be phased out from April and replaced by the new Universal Credit, a single payment that will replace the current range of working age benefits.

Shona Stephen, chief executive of Queen's Cross Housing Associa-tion, says it must factor in projected losses in revenue, claiming rent arrears could double under the changes.

She said: "The consequence of the welfare reforms is that we are trying to manage the impact on services without harshly impacting on tenants.

"The 'bedroom tax' will affect about 300 tenants. The cost for us will be about £176,000. Those tenants will have to find money they did not have to before. Alongside that is the Universal Credit, which will go directly to the tenants. They might end up using that money for other costs.

"About 70% of our tenants qualify for housing benefit. This is paid directly to us, but in future we will have to pursue 4000 of our tenants for rent payments."

The association, which is responsible for almost 4500 homes in Woodside, Hamiltonhill/Wester-common, Queen's Cross and Dundasvale, says its average rent for proper-ties is £66.70 a week. It says this is lower than other housing associa-tions of a similar size.

Tenants in Woodside say the association has not done planned improve-ments. Ms Stephen said: "There is catch-up work to be carried out."

caroline.wilson@eveningtimes.co.uk

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