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19 November 2012

We need to go above and beyond Scottish model

The upcoming welfare reform changes, including the introduction of Universal Credit, and the removal of the direct payment of housing benefit to landlords, will expose many of the most vulnerable people in society to challenges they have never faced before. To date, UK Government have offered little flexibility and support for tenants who are often financially incapable and digitally excluded, and Community Housing Cymru believes that Welsh tenants should be afforded the same protection that those in Northern Ireland are seeing.

In anticipation of the launch of the second stage of the Silk Commission, Nick Bennett, Group Chief Executive of CHC said: ''We need to go above and beyond the Scottish model of Reserved Powers. In Northern Ireland, welfare reform is devolved. As a result tenants in Housing Executive, housing association and private rented homes in Northern Ireland will be able to continue to have housing costs paid directly to their landlord when Universal Credit is introduced.

Also, unlike Wales, the payment of Universal Credit may be split between two parties in the household and be paid twice each month, easing the number of potential problems that may occur if the payment is just made to one person. We believe there will be a rise in the use of high interest doorstep lenders and loan sharks as people come to terms with the cuts – many of whom are already struggling to make ends meet. If we had parity with Northern Ireland on welfare reform it would also mean that we wouldn’t see the 1% increase in the cost of private borrowing, as suggested by the Council of Mortgage Lenders.''

For further information please contact Edwina O'Hart on edwina-ohart@chcymru.org.uk or 029 2067 4808 / 07791 898497.