Housing Benefit (Scotland)

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 10:28 pm on 16th May 1988.

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Photo of Henry McLeish Henry McLeish , Central Fife 10:28 pm, 16th May 1988

I think that my hon. Friend the Member for Cunninghame, North (Mr. Wilson) made the point that this is an extraordinary response to what is a crisis in Scotland for our tenants. I am sure that the Minister will face numerous problems in relation to housing benefit, especially as it will have an impact on the housing departments throughout Scotland. One of the crucial issues that we face is that, because of changes in social security and reductions in housing benefit, many of my constituents will be unable to pay their rent.

What guidance will the Minister give to local authorities which may have hundreds of tenants unable to pay their rent? Will the Minister consider a non-eviction policy emanating from St. Andrew's house? Clearly, many people are on the breadline.They will not be able to pay rent or rates to the local authority. I am sure that the Minister is aware that I have had pensioners and people on low incomes, in tears at my surgeries. It is a horrific experience to see people, who have paid their taxes, rents and rates all their lives now in the invidious position of being worse than beggars with a bowl. They come to surgeries and they say, "What can we do? What can you do to help?"