The new Programme for Government for 2022-2023 A Stronger & More Resilient Scotland was published on 6 September, setting out Scottish Government actions for this coming year. Many of this year’s commitments are focused on government’s response to the cost-of-living crisis, including increased protections for tenants and longer-term plans to make rents more affordable.
The aim of following measures is to support people struggling with the increased costs to food and fuel to be able to stay in their home. This would also help people maintain social connections, avoid worsening mental health issues, keep their jobs and avoid housing crises such as homelessness:
- A rent freeze, effective from 6 Sept, will be introduced in a new emergency Housing Bill. The new legislation will also impose a temporary ban on evictions, until at least March 2023. These measures are for tenants in both the private rented sector and the social rented sector.
- A new campaign will be launched to raise tenants’ awareness of their rights to ensure they can access the support and assistance they need.
- A ‘one-stop-shop’ website will be introduced to provide people with information on the range of benefits and support available to them through the current crisis.
- A new Housing Bill will be introduced by the end of this parliamentary year to begin to deliver the actions of the New Deal for Tenants and some other aspects of Housing to 2040 – these are yet to be confirmed.
Other measures to help people cope with increased costs include:
- The Fuel Insecurity Fund doubled to £20 million to help households at risk of self-disconnection.
- The Scottish Child Payment will increase to £25 for each eligible child from 14 November, when the payment will also open up to all under 16-year-olds.
- Rail fares will also be frozen.
These practical steps to prevent more people becoming homeless as a result of the increased costs we are facing is very welcome. Changes to legislation are a vital foundation to this action, along with people knowing their rights. As we know from the way that other housing legislation is implemented across Scotland, implementation including enforcement measures around the new law will be key.
Reaction to the announcements
Housing Associations are extremely worried about the rent freeze meaning they will have insufficient funds for upgrading existing property and building new homes.
Housing sector reacts to Programme for Government rent freeze
Scottish Housing News 7.9.22
Scottish Association of Landlords have been ‘inundated’ by private sector landlords saying they will remove their properties from the housing market, which could lead to more tenants being made homeless. Concerns have been raised about interest rates leading to increases in mortgage payments (especially buy-to-let mortgages) which will no longer be covered by rent.
Scottish landlords warn of severe problems if ‘rent freeze’ goes ahead
Landlord Zone 6.9.22
Living Rent strongly welcome the rent freeze
Scotland introduces rent freeze and eviction ban to protect tenants from cost of living crisis
Big Issue 6.9.22