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17 February 2014

CHC responds to Welsh Government report on impact of Welfare Reform

Welsh Government today launched a report warning that working age adults in Wales will be hundreds of pounds a year worse off due to UK Government cuts to welfare.

Responding to the report, Nick Bennett, Group Chief Executive of Community Housing Cymru said:

"We are not surprised but concerned by the findings of Welsh Government on the impact of welfare reform on the people of Wales and our economy. Wales is the poorest part of the UK with economic inactivity and benefit dependency higher here than anywhere else. While we welcome that Welsh Government recognised the scale of the challenge, what we are looking for now is action.

We recently launched our ‘Don’t Get Bitten’ anti loan shark campaign at the Senedd in partnership with the Wales Illegal Money Lending Unit, where we called for a 'Coalition against Usury' and proposed a three pronged approach to tackling poverty in Wales – awareness raising, advice and access to affordable credit. Sixteen Assembly Members signed up to support our Coalition including Minister for Communities and Tackling Poverty, Jeff Cuthbert, and Deputy Minister, Vaughan Gething.

We have led on the Your Benefits Are Changing (YBAC) awareness raising campaign and set up an independent advice line specifically for those affected by welfare reform – there is nothing like this in any other part of Wales or the UK. The independent YBAC advice team have advised over 7,000 people, they have restructured budgets to write off £1.7m of non-priority debt, identified £1.3m of water related debt, helped almost 700 people to claim a Warm Home Discount and identified £390k of unclaimed benefits.

We have also set up and part funded Moneyline Cymru – a not-for-profit organisation which provides affordable loans to those who are traditionally ignored by mainstream lenders. They also open bank and savings accounts for customers.

Innovative projects like these need more support from Welsh Government if they are to maintain their commitment to social justice. Our challenge to Welsh Government is to work with us on these projects to get real results on behalf of the people of Wales.”

To read the full report - visit Welsh Government's website:http://wales.gov.uk/newsroom/communities/2014/140217-welfare-cuts/?lang=en