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15 March 2013

CHC calls for Welfare Defence Programme to protect Welsh tenants

Community Housing Cymru – the membership body for housing associations in Wales – has welcomed the announcement today of further funding to mitigate the impact of welfare reforms, and called upon Welsh Government to use the money as part of a ‘Welfare Defence Programme’ to protect Welsh tenants from the raft of changes being brought in by the Welfare Reform Act.

Housing, Regeneration and Heritage Minister Huw Lewis announced today that Welsh Government will spend an extra £750,000 on protecting people from welfare changes, and CHC have called for a programme of affordable credit, money and benefits advice, and capital funding for more one and two bed homes, along with research to understand the impact of the changes on tenants and housing associations.

CHC Group Chief Executive, Nick Bennett, said:

“The announcement today must be welcomed, but it is important that this money is used sensibly. Affordable credit options and good timely advice will be key to helping tenants through these changes. In addition to providing affordable loans and opening saving accounts, Moneyline staff assist customers to open basic bank accounts with direct debit provision while discussing priority bill payments with them – all of which will help when Universal Credit and direct payments to tenants is introduced in October.

With more than £200m in consequential capital funding available to Welsh Government over the next two years, investment in new housing is key. Building new, affordable one and two bed homes will not only help with the problems caused by the ‘bedroom tax’, it will create jobs and play a vital role in regenerating communities across Wales.

Further to this, Welsh Government needs to understand the impact of Universal Credit and Direct Payments across the social housing sector in Wales. A similar study in England will give policy makers and government there a better understanding of how the changes affect tenants and housing providers. Wales can’t afford to be left behind.”