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18 May 2023

Cost of Living payments ‘won’t bridge the gap’ for struggling social housing tenants warns Community Housing Cymru

Cost of Living payments ‘won’t bridge the gap’ for struggling social housing tenants warns Community Housing Cymru

Hundreds of thousands of social housing tenants across Wales will “struggle to keep their head above water” despite receiving cost of living payments from this month, an expert from Community Housing Cymru has warned.

Hayley Macnamara, policy and external affairs manager at the trade body which represents Welsh housing associations, said the £301 payments from the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) would not be enough to bridge the financial shortfall currently facing tenants.

The first cost of living payments are currently being paid by the Department for Work and Pensions, with two more instalments due to be paid later this year and in 2024. It is estimated that 422,000 households across Wales will receive the first cost of living payment.

However Mrs Macnamara, who is the sector’s cost of living lead, said the payments wouldn’t be enough to support people who are experiencing a surge in food, fuel and energy prices.

She said: “Even with these payments, social housing tenants are struggling to keep their head above water as living costs continue to rise.

“These payments are welcome, but they are not enough to bridge the gap between the increasing costs faced by tenants, and the reduction in financial support available to social housing tenants this year compared to last year.

“Social housing tenants are among the hardest hit by the cost of living crisis so more must be done to ensure that they have adequate financial support and advice during this incredibly challenging time.”

Adding to financial pressures faced by tenants during the ongoing cost of living crisis are the end of the Government’s Energy Bill Relief Scheme, the Welsh Government’s Fuel Support Scheme, and council tax rebates, which have left people facing even greater hardship.

Mrs Macnamara said it was vital that people are not forced to choose between “eating and heating” as financial pressures continue to squeeze household budgets even further.

She added: “While the latest predictions could see households save around £440 a year as part of the energy price cap, people will still be paying £1,000 more than pre-pandemic rates.

“The whole cost of living crisis has made the removal of choice for the people who are most deprived in our society more stark than ever.

“So many have had to choose between eating and heating, and this is a poignant reminder of how crucial the safety net of good housing and appropriate welfare support is. We need to ensure that the welfare system provides sufficient support so that they never have to consider choosing between essentials.”

Community Housing Cymru, which represents 34 Welsh housing associations, is recommending through its Time to Act report that existing welfare policies are improved, including through increasing the Universal Credit Standard Allowance.

For more information on Community Housing Cymru and its work to support housing associations in Wales visit its website here or follow it on social media@CHCymru.org.uk