Tuesday, 26 May 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.’

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