'No evictions' vows over welfare changes

RENFREWSHIRE Council has pressed ahead with plans to protect tenants facing eviction under the so-called bedroom tax.

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The Labour-run authority has backed plans to rule out evictions for its tenants who fall into rent arrears because of changes to benefits which come into effect on April 1.

The move will cost about £1.8 million, money the council says it can "ill afford".

Council leader Mark Macmillan said: "We've decided to exclude eviction as a policy for those that fall into arrears because it is the right thing to do.

"We are asking the Scottish Government to do what is in its power to protect tenants.

"The bedroom tax will cost the council £1.2m and a further £600,000 for registered social landlords. That's money that the council will not now have for building new homes or creating jobs."

Local residents also attended a council publicity event to spread the word about the changes to the benefits system. 'Benefits Are Changing Day' was held at Tannahill Centre in Ferguslie Park, Paisley.

Councillor Michael Holmes, deputy council leader and welfare reform spokesman, said: "The UK Government's welfare reform agenda will take around £22m out of the area's economy."

West Dunbartonshire Council has also agreed not to evict tenants, if they have a "modest" payment plan in place.

The decision protects 10,000 households against the 'bedroom tax' and any future welfare changes such as universal credit and cuts to tax credits.

The council voted for a motion that included an explicit commitment of a no evictions policy for rent arrears for tenants who actively work with and accept the support of the council to agree a payment plan.

ewan.fergus@ eveningtimes.co.uk

Local government

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