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28 July 2015

Public Accounts Committee publishes report on welfare reform in Wales

The Public Accounts Committee has today published a report on 'responding to welfare reform in Wales'.

Sioned Hughes, Director of Policy and External Affairs at Community Housing Cymru, said:

‘CHC provided evidence to the Public Accounts Committee on the impact of welfare reform in Wales and we welcome the committee’s recommendation that Welsh Government should provide longer-term funding support for the much-needed advice services sector across Wales. Although housing associations, along with our Your Benefits are Changing (YBAC) team, are already playing a major role in mitigating the impact of welfare reform through financial inclusion activities and advice services, more resources are needed to ensure that our most vulnerable tenants have access to the advice services they need, particularly following the summer budget announcements.

It’s essential that housing associations remain strong and viable in order to support tenants, and the biggest challenges are yet to come with the continued implementation of Universal Credit, freeze on working-age benefits, and the reduced benefit cap of £20,000 affecting over 7,000 families in Wales according to CHC’s estimates. With this in mind, it is of paramount importance that we secure long-term funding for our YBAC money advice service. YBAC is an invaluable service and resource which has already helped over 100,000 people, and we will work with members and partner organisations to ensure that tenants receive the right advice and support.

Wales is disproportionately affected by the ‘bedroom tax’ (20.4% of social housing tenants are affected compared to 15.3% in Scotland), and any support provided by Welsh Government in this area would be welcomed. The sector provides affordable housing to those in greatest need in our communities, and further investment is needed to ensure that the most vulnerable have a home. We welcome the investment already made by Welsh Government to mitigate the impact of welfare reform, but there is a lack of right housing in the right places. Housing supply is a huge issue across Wales and we would highly recommended the need for continued investment into the development of new homes.’

You can read the full report here.