The Scottish Federation of Housing Associations (SFHA) was responding to a major survey of social landlords, which found that the amount owed soared by nearly £800,000 after the welfare reform came into force in April this year.
The survey of local authorities and residential social landlords, reported in The Herald yesterday, found that nearly two-thirds (64%) said they had seen an increase in arrears in the quarter since the introduction of the UK Government's Spare Room Subsidy. Those affected by the measure lose housing benefit if they are judged to be occupying homes that are larger than they need.
David Ogilvie, policy manager of the SFHA, said yesterday: "The fact remains that many tenants hit by the 'bedroom tax' are left in a desperate situation which risks putting them into rent arrears. The short supply of cheaper, smaller properties means many affected households are stuck facing a shortfall in rent support.
"Whilst it is still very early days, this survey's findings provide concrete evidence of a worrying upwards trend in arrears.
"This heralds tough times ahead for Scottish social landlords - be they housing associations, co-operatives or local authorities - as they face the twin challenges of increasing service delivery costs and reducing income. Both of these challenges arise directly from welfare reform."