Tenants struggling with rising cost of living get vital financial support from Welsh housing associations
Policy and external affairs manager and cost of living lead Hayley Macnamara looks at the crucial financial support housing association teams are providing, as many Welsh tenants continue to see their finances stretched by the cost of living crisis.
People on lower incomes, including many who live in housing association homes across Wales, are continuing to feel the acute effects of the cost of living crisis in their daily lives.
As the price of essentials including food and energy remain high, more and more people living in housing association homes have turned to their dedicated local teams for urgent financial support.
Luckily, these teams are skilled at helping people facing financial hardship, and can offer a raft of support to tenants in need.
This includes income maximisation, where specialists work with tenants to ensure they receive any additional finance support or funding that they are entitled to.
These advisors can explain more about benefits - such as Universal Credit, Disability Living Allowance and Pension Credits - and help tenants to navigate application processes that can be confusing and may prevent people from claiming what is theirs.
On average, they helped to maximise individual tenant income by over £1,000 during this period, making a real difference to people’s daily lives.
Melin has maximised tenants income by £10 million over the last 10 years, including £1.4 million the last financial year through debt relief, energy support, grant applications and benefit claim assistance.
They are also providing more than £1.3 million in hardship funding for tenants in the current financial year, with 86% of housing associations offering this support.
Teams are also on hand to signpost their tenants to debt advice, promote financial wellbeing and budgeting skills. Our research shows that 14,583 tenants were supported by their housing association between January and June 2023. This is an average of 729 tenants per housing association.
Tai Calon provided life-changing support to a tenant during their time of need. Following the tragic loss of their grown-up child and two grandchildren in an accident they found himself living with a friend. They were given just two weeks to find other accommodation, and had no bank account or identification with which to open one.
Tai Calon’s Lifft support workers helped by applying for a birth certificate and securing a flat in one of Tai Calon’s sheltered schemes. They also registered the now-tenant with a bank and GP practice and accessed the Tai Calon hardship fund for bedding, crockery, pots and pans, and food.
They applied for housing and Council Tax Benefits and Personal Independence Payment, both of which were awarded. As a result, the tenant had an additional £1,252 per month, and a one-off payment of £2,742.
They said: “No one has ever helped me before or ever done anything like this for me. Thank you so much I love my home, I just can’t believe it is mine.”
In order to ensure tenants get the urgent support they need, we have responded to Welsh Government’s draft budget and called on them to continue to support people through the cost of living crisis by protecting existing emergency funds - including the Homelessness Prevention Grant, Discretionary Housing Payments and Discretionary Assistance Funds.
We are also highlighting the importance of continuing to fund vital initiatives that target fuel and food poverty and support higher rates of benefit take up.
We are also calling for UK Government to commit to reviewing and increasing Universal Credit to ensure that the minimum level of support guarantees that people can pay for essentials at hard times. This is in line with calls made by Joseph Rowntree Foundation and The Trussell Trust for an Essentials Guarantee.
Housing association tenants continue to be among the hardest hit by the cost of living crisis, and they now need urgent support to ensure they don’t continue to face the consequences of ongoing financial pressures.