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22 November 2023

Response: Autumn Statement 2023 benefit reforms and universal credit increase

Response: Autumn Statement 2023 benefit reforms and universal credit increase

Today's Autumn Statement has seen the Chancellor announce changes to the benefits system which includes reforms to the Work Capability Assessment.

These changes could see people on long-term sick encouraged to find a job within 18 months or be asked to undertake work placements. People who are unable to do this, could risk having their benefits cut entirely.

On the announcement, our policy and external affairs manager Hayley Macnamara said: "Today’s announced reforms to the benefits system and work capability assessments will be devastating for many people who are unable to work as a result of legitimate long-term health issues.

"The threat of losing their benefits if they cannot find work, will add huge strain to vulnerable people on the lowest incomes, including many who live in housing association homes, when they are already struggling with rising living costs.

"This ultimatum is unacceptable, and it’s absolutely crucial that people living in housing association homes who are unable to work, can continue to afford the essentials without living in constant fear about their benefits being cut.

"Housing associations in Wales are doing all they can to support people at this incredibly challenging time, and we would encourage anyone who has concerns to get in touch with their landlord."

In addition, an increase in universal credit and benefits was announced for next year, in line with September's inflation rate of 6.7%.

In response to this news, Hayley added, "The news that universal credit and other benefits will be increased by 6.7% will be welcomed by the people and families who have been unable to afford basic essentials throughout the cost of living crisis.

"Now, both the UK and Welsh governments need to turn their attention to the other ways that people who are on the lowest incomes - including Welsh housing association tenants - still need support to help them deal with the years of debt and stress caused by rising costs.

"This includes prioritising the creation of an energy social tariff and providing affordable repayment options for those in energy debt, as well as protecting existing emergency funds and ensuring that routes to support are accessible & targeted to those who most need it."