Joe Cullinane

Scottish Labour Councillor for Kilwinning

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Joe responds to Scottish Association of Landlords defence of Housing Benefit payments

private_landlords.jpgJoe has stood by his comments on the £10.8million paid to North Ayrshire private landlords in direct Housing Benefit after the Scottish Association of Landlords take issue with them.

The Scottish Association of Landlords accused Joe of scoring "cheap points" by calling the vast Housing Benefits as a public subsidy. 

Joe responded by saying;

"Mr Blackwood may well have taken exception with me describing the vast sums of Housing Benefit being paid to private landlords as a public subsidy, and as the Chief Executive of the Scottish Landlords Association you would expect him too, but I stick by it. After all my priority is getting homes for the 5000 families who are on the local housing wait and making the private rented sector fairer for the 6000 North Ayrshire families who privately rent, his priority is standing up for private landlords."
"He is right about one thing, Housing Benefit is paid to low income tenants to help with housing costs no matter whether they are in a private let or social housing. However, that is where the comparison ends."
"Whilst rents received, including through Housing Benefit payments, by North Ayrshire Council and local Housing Associations are used to reinvest in existing housing stock, for example installing new kitchens and bathrooms, and building new social houses, the majority of rents received by private landlords go towards paying off their mortgages or boosting their bank accounts. That's what makes Housing Benefit payments to private landlords a public subsidy. Mr Blackwood, unsurprisingly, doesn't acknowledge this in his response."
"Mr Blackwood also chooses to take exception to my use of the word "subsidy" but fails to mention the sums that individual private landlords made in Housing Benefit. Is he saying it is fair that; in an area with high levels of social deprivation, some of the highest levels of unemployment in the country and where a third of our children are brought up in poverty; 184 private landlords received over £10,000 in direct Housing Benefit payments last year and one private landlord raked in over £145,000? I know I think it's unfair and from speaking to local people I know that many of them agree with me."
"Whilst I may disagree with Mr Blackwood I would like to thank him for responding. When I launched my Home Sweet Home campaign I said I wanted to engage with a range of people and groups who have an interest in housing, including private landlords. Rather than having a protracted debate in the local press I have written to Mr Blackwood and asked for a meeting so we can discuss our differences of opinion face to face. I look forward to him accepting my offer to meet."


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