Shelter Scotland sounds eviction warning amid rise of unemployment
New figures which reveal an increase in Scotland’s unemployment rate “make grim reading” and warrant an extension to the temporary measures put in place to prevent eviction for rent arrears.
Data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) today revealed that unemployment in Scotland for people over 16 was 4.6%, compared with a UK rate of 3.9%.
Unemployment across the country increased 30,000 to 127,000 between February and April as the coronavirus lockdown hit the labour market.
Meanwhile, the claimant count for income support stands at 215,240 as of May 14. This is a 99% increase on last May, and has increased faster than in England, which has only seen a 68% increase since last May.
Alison Watson, director of Shelter Scotland, said: “These new figures make grim reading. We already know that many people in privately rented accommodation aren’t able to afford to save and we are worried that all too many are about to find out that the social security safety net is not enough to catch their fall with some unable to afford their rent.
“That’s why we need to see the temporary measures put in place to prevent eviction for rent arrears extended and benefits increased to cover average rents. Without these steps we fear a tidal wave of evictions and already struggling homelessness services becoming overwhelmed as people lose their homes. Homelessness is preventable.
“The Scottish Government must also commit to ensure sufficient funding is available for Discretionary Housing Payments as these are lifelines for those facing a shortfall in their rent.”
Citizens Advice Scotland’s social justice spokesperson Mhoraig Green said: “These figures may be the tip of the iceberg compared to the state of the economy later this year as the furlough scheme winds down and industries face reduced demand.
“People who find they have no job to return to after furlough will be entering a difficult jobs market.
“Those who are struggling should know that the Citizens Advice network is here to help. We can ensure they are getting all the support they are entitled to and not overpaying on bills.
“It’s essential both the Scottish and UK governments look at ways to grow our economy in a way that creates fair paying, secure work.
“That’s why CAS has called for more investment in energy efficient housing as a measure that could create jobs, as well as making state support for business contingent on fair work practices.
“The whole UK may be facing an economic storm in the months to come. It’s vital that the most vulnerable aren’t swept into deeper poverty as a result.”