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Monday 10 January 2011

Thousands of workers in Scotland too low paid to afford rent

Thousands of workers in Scotland are being forced onto housing benefit by a toxic cocktail of low pay and high rents, warns UNISON, the UK’s largest union today (10 January). On average 22% of those claiming housing benefit are in work, rising to more than 32.6% in East Lothian.

The union is warning that the benefits bill is likely to soar as more people in the region lose their jobs because of Government cuts. UNISON is calling for fair pay - fair rents, to switch the burden away from taxpayers and onto employers and landlords.

The union urging the Government to take urgent action and start building much needed affordable homes.

Dave Prentis, General Secretary of UNISON, the UK’s largest union, said: “The Tories like to paint a picture of work-shy scroungers, living it up in massive mansions at the taxpayers’ expense, when the reality is very different. Their own statistics show that thousands of workers in Scotland are so low paid, they are forced onto housing benefit to keep a roof over their heads. These families will be amongst those hardest hit by the government’s changes to housing benefit.

“It is time to shift the onus onto bosses and make it clear that they cannot get away with paying poverty wages by expecting taxpayers to pick up the benefits bill. And the Government cannot turn their backs on the housing crisis that is sweeping through the country. Families are crying out for decent accommodation and instead of targeting housing benefits, the Government should be tackling the underlying problem by building affordable homes. This would stimulate the local economy, keep people in work and stop landlords from over-charging because of shortages in the rental market.

“Without urgent action the situation is set to get worse. When you add in those losing their jobs over the coming months because of Government cuts, the problem is set to add a huge burden on the taxpayer that workers can ill afford.”