Saturday, 31 January 2015

Funding for homes to beat 'bedroom tax'

The Welsh Government has provided £20 million to build smaller homes to reduce the number of people hit by a penalty for under-occupation of social housing.

Jane Hutt, the Welsh finance minister, announced a package of £30 million to increase investment in housing supply as part of a larger £75 million allocation. The money came from recalculations as a result of changes to Westminster-allocated budgets.

The money included £20 million for social housing grant ‘specifically to target investment in providing housing for individuals and families that may be adversely affected as a result of the UK government’s reductions in housing benefit’.

This will involve a programme of building one and two-bedroom homes for people that may be hit by the bedroom tax, which penalises social housing tenants who are deemed to have a spare bedroom.

Ms Hutt also announced £10 million to expand the pilot of the houses into homes initiative, which helps bring empty homes in Wales back into use.

She said: ‘The main benefits of investment are gained over the long term. But in present circumstances, the jobs created in constructing new infrastructure are vitally important, and this latest package is expected to support around 1,400 jobs during the construction phase.

‘This significant package of investment clearly demonstrates our commitment to stimulating economic growth, creating jobs, mitigating the impact of the UK government’s welfare reforms and reducing poverty in Wales.’

Nick Bennett, chief executive of Community Housing Cymru, said: ‘The social housing grant, which will be used for additional one and two-bed properties, will enable social landlords to offer tenants who are affected by the bedroom tax affordable homes to downsize in to.

‘We don’t believe that tenants are needlessly under-occupying larger homes, but simply have no choice due to the national shortage of affordable homes.’

Readers' comments (5)

  • When I phoned united welsh housing association to ask to downsize I was told with a giggle ,I might add,that I will be put on first priority .
    I have been ill with worry and the thought of moving where,by who, is at times quite overwhelming .The maddening thing is,i don't think this bedroom tax will solve anything .

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  • Clearly no BT should be applied until there is local suitable alternate accommodation available...

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  • This governments forcing policies all designed to hit the poorest hardest .We need jobs and waiting years to downsize is a joke because paying this charge whilst waiting is a massive burden for many.
    How about the welsh government pay this tax until people have the choice .I also think people on benefits will breed more to fill these empty bedrooms ,just a thought.

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  • Evan Owen

    With willing landowners and the investors in place the problem could be resolved quite quickly, planning policies permitting, he says with a giggle..

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  • The reality here is that while there are no alternative stock of housing, no tax should be payable. Bit like a SORN for a car tax. If there is and lets be fair social housing is not a right but requirement, then people should downsize where appropriate freeing up larger properties for the needy in that group. BUT, if there are no needy in a group, then why move people. It should all be based on need. It really is just common sense.

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