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If you are not entitled to housing benefit the under-occupancy rules introduced by Welfare Reform will not affect you.

If you are a Housing Association tenant and are affected by these changes you will now be asked to pay the difference between any Housing Benefit award and your rent. Should you not pay the shortfall between your rent and Housing Benefit award you will then fall into rent arrears.

If you are affected due to having spare bedroom(s) and are concerned about the implications please seek advice. Argyll & Bute Council Welfare Rights Team have a considerable amount of information available online. This includes advice on how you can minimise the impact if affected by these changes. You can also contact them by phone on 01546 605 517 or by completing a welfare rights enquiry form.

Housing Association Tenants

If you are a tenant of a Housing Association and you have a spare bedroom(s), you may wish to contact your local Housing Association Office or your local Council Housing Services Office for information or advice.

Tenants of Argyll Community Housing Association can get specialist advice from the Financial Inclusion in Social Housing (FISH) Project. Please contact your local ACHA office for further information or phone 01546 605 591.

Argyll Net Works

Argyll Net works aims to mitigate the difficulties faced by housing association tenants impacted by Welfare Reform. Although most of our clients will be tenants of Dunbritton Housing Association, Fyne Homes or West Highland Housing Association we will endeavour to provide advice and assistance to anyone who has been affected by welfare reform.

We will work with people facing financial difficulties and who require dedicated support in the short to medium term and offer support/ advice on: budgeting skills, discretionary housing payments, housing benefit, income maximisation, energy, IT, access to credit unions, debt advice, start up packs and tenancy sustainment.

If you require more specialised support/ advice we will refer you on to the relevant organisation but will still maintain contact with you throughout the process.

Contact details are:

West Highland Housing Association tenants – Diane MacDonald , West Highland Housing Association, Crannog Lane, Oban, PA34 4HB. Tel 01631 566451

Dunbritton Housing Association tenants – Anna Murray, Dunbritton Housing Association, 1st Floor, 32 High Street, Dumbarton, G82 1LL. Tel 01389 761486

Fyne Homes Housing Association tenants – Margo Allan, Fyne Homes Ltd, 81 Victoria Street, Rothesay, Isle of Bute, PA20 0AP. Tel 0845 6077117

You may wish to apply for a transfer to a smaller property. Home Argyll Housing Association tenants (ACHA, Fyne Homes, Dunbritton Housing Association and West Highland Housing Association) who want to downsize will be given some degree of priority and may be eligible for incentives. However being offered a smaller property will depend on availability of stock in your areas of choice.

Private Tenants

The monthly rental for private rented sector properties is often influenced by the size of the property with larger properties being more expensive. If you are reliant on Local Housing Allowance (housing benefit for private sector tenants) to help to pay your rent, your entitlement will be based on the size of property you need and not the size of property you are in. This is important as you are likely to have to pay a shortfall amount if you rent a property that is bigger than you need.

If you are struggling financially, you may wish to consider looking for a suitable sized property within the private sector or applying for a Housing Association property.