Welfare reform hits Welsh tenants the hardest

  • A report has published that Welsh social landlord's tenants are being hit hard by welfare reform, seemingly unreasonably and excessively.

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    In Wales, 20.4% of tenants in social housing have been affected by the bedroom tax in comparison to England (15.3%) and Scotland (19%), according to research published by the Welsh Audit Office (WAO), reports Inside Housing

    An increase in poverty, debt and exclusion was also found by the WAO which links to the introduction of welfare reform measures.

    The report also conveys its doubt about the Department for Work and Pensions' estimate of £490m in savings across the UK in 2013-14, by stating ‘the true savings cannot be forecast accurately'.

    In the last year, only 14% of tenants that were affected by the bedroom tax in Wales moved home with rent debts of social tenants increasing by £5.3m and the number of tenants in debts rising by 23.3% in the first six months of 2013/14.

    The WAO calls on social landlords to improve engagement and relations with tenants affected by the bedroom tax. They referred to the councils' strategies to support their tenants in coping ‘inconsistent' and stated that landlords lack ‘comprehensive' plans.

    68% of tenants who were surveyed stated that they had not received any support from their social landlord to address the effect of welfare reform. This issue was made worse as 39% of tenants said that they do not have access to a PC.

    36% of the councils and housing associations surveyed reported an increase in the cost of managing debts, 38% stated there was a slight increase in management costs and 26% reported no change at all.

    The report states: ‘Social landlords are not converting their properties to create smaller homes to address the increased demand arising from the removal of the spare-room subsidy'.

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