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20 March 2013

CHC comment on the Chancellor's budget

Commenting on the Chancellor’s budget, Nick Bennett, Group Chief Executive of Community Housing Cymru said: “We welcome measures to boost housing affordability and construction as well as the additional £161m in Welsh Government capital ''spending power'' boost over the next two years. We are urging them to invest this, along with the £227m consequential they have yet to allocate, towards a ‘Welfare Defence Programme’ to mitigate against the worst effects of hurricane housing benefit.

As part of the ‘Welfare Defence Programme’, we need to reverse the 40% cuts in Social Housing Grant to enable us to boost the supply of one and two bed affordable homes. This will not only protect those struggling to pay their rent because of the ‘bedroom tax’, but will also provide much needed job and training opportunities and provide a boost to the Welsh economy.

Whilst the Welsh Government will see a 0.2% cut in revenue, thousands of people in Wales are set to lose between 14% and 25% as changes to housing benefit are introduced in the coming weeks through the unfair and incompetent ‘bedroom tax’.

In addition to building more homes, we need investment in and support for a programme of affordable credit and money advice for tenants. Affordable credit options and good timely advice on getting online and opening a bank account with direct debit provision will be key to helping tenants through the changes to welfare reform, all of which will help when Universal Credit and direct payments to tenants is introduced in October.

Our message to Welsh Government is simple: your response to this budget can stimulate Welsh economic growth and bolster social justice, defending the most vulnerable by adopting a comprehensive ‘Welfare Defence Programme’ approach."

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