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17 October 2013

CHC comments on Welsh Affairs Committee ‘The Impact of changes to housing benefit in Wales’ Report

In response to the Welsh Affairs Committee ‘The Impact of changes to housing benefit in Wales’

Nick Bennett, Group Chief Executive of Community Housing Cymru said:

“We welcome the findings from the committee which echo the concerns we raised when giving evidence. The DWP’s own impact assessment highlighted that Wales would be hardest hit by these reforms. The housing supply crisis has been a major contributor to the increasing welfare bill and, until we see a long-term affordable house building programme that will drive down the price of rents for everybody, this won’t change. We have recently called on Welsh Government to increase their affordable housing target from 7,500 to 10,000 for this term of Government.

We know that in Wales there are simply not enough one and two bed properties for people to move in to. Recent figures suggest that the ratio of those affected by the ‘bedroom tax’ and the number of smaller properties available is 70:1. Welsh Government have committed £20m this year and a further £20m over the next two years for this purpose.

We are in the process of gathering data from our members looking at the impact of the first six months of the ‘bedroom tax’. 87 percent of those who responded have seen an increase in arrears since the introduction of the ‘bedroom tax’, with 43% of tenants part paying but almost 20% paying nothing at all towards the shortfall. We’ll be releasing the full findings mid November.

These are worrying percentages considering that Universal Credit hasn’t been rolled out across Wales yet. Under Universal Credit, tenants will receive their benefits once a month and be paid housing benefit directly. This is despite studies showing that nine out of ten tenants actually want their housing benefit to continue to be paid directly to their landlord.”

Full Report