During FMQs today, Stuart McMillan MSP for Greenock and Inverclyde highlighted the Scottish Government’s £10m Tenant Hardship Loan Fund – which provides financial assistance to private and social sector tenants who are experiencing difficulties paying their rent because of COVID-19.
Stuart raised this question after being contacted by a local letting agency on behalf of their tenants.
Commenting after FMQs, Stuart said:
“The COVID-19 pandemic has had a huge impact on many households income, which is why the Tenant Hardship Loan Fund is an important part of the Scottish Government’s measures to protect tenants from eviction due to rent arrears.
“These loans provide short term support that allows tenants to pay rent arrears that have arisen since 1 January 2020 and/or pay up to 3 months of future rent payments.
“As of 15 February, over £200,000 had been awarded from the fund to 73 tenants, and the First Minister confirmed that another 357 applications are continuing to be processed.
“I raised concerns put to me by a local letting agent who has indicated that the process to access this funding has been challenging for some applicants, as they have been unable to monitor the process of their application, which has heaped more stress on tenants who are already struggling.
“The First Minister confirmed that applicants are given a reference number and contact details of the loan administrator so they can check the process of their application. She also confirmed that a range of information and support is made available to applicants on applying, and in cases where a loan application is unsuccessful, information is supplied on alternative sources of financial support.
“It would appear that the most common reason for rejection is unaffordability – meaning that this short-term loan is considered to not provide adequate support to the tenant in the long-term. Consequently, they are advised to apply for housing benefit or discretionary housing payments, to help them manage and their rent arrears.
“I would therefore like to encourage all of my constituents to make sure they’re receiving the support they’re entitled to, and to apply for housing benefit or discretionary housing payments if they’re facing longstanding arrears. If the issue is only short-term, then please apply for the Tenant Hardship Loan Fund for assistance.”