Wednesday, 04 March 2015

Welsh minister lobbies Freud over welfare reform

The number of people asking for emergency help with their rent has risen by more than 800 per cent in one area of Wales, the Welsh Government has said.

The figures were published as Wales’ communities and tackling poverty minister Huw Lewis met the UK government’s welfare reform minister Lord David Freud today to voice fears that benefit changes would harm vulnerable people and the financial viability of social landlords.

The research by the Welsh Government found claims for discretionary housing paymentshave shot up by 804 per cent in Anglesey, 316 per cent in Conwy, 266 per cent in Newport, 371 per cent in Wrexham and by 65 per cent in the Vale of Glamorgan.

Discretionary housing payments are temporary grants administered by councils to help housing benefit claimants cover shortfalls between their rent and housing benefit. Many councils receive more applications than they can fund and tenants left with a shortfall due to welfare reforms have applied for the payments.

Speaking ahead of the meeting, Mr Lewis said: ‘I welcome the opportunity to speak to Lord Freud directly about how the changes to welfare are having a very real impact on the lives of people across Wales.

‘The bedroom tax alone will see 40,000 families worse off and councils are telling us more people than ever before are applying for emergency help to pay the rent.

‘By some estimates the wider welfare changes will take £1 billion out of the Welsh economy and it is the most vulnerable in our society who will feel the squeeze.

‘The Welsh Government is committed to doing all we can to help people through these traumatic changes. However, we are under no illusion that people will suffer hardship and this will put even more pressure on public services in a climate where our budgets are being squeezed like never before.’

Carl Sargeant, the Welsh housing and regeneration minister said: ‘I share Huw Lewis’ concerns about the impact of welfare reform on people and communities across Wales. I am also concerned about the impact on the financial viability of organisations, in particular housing associations, which are key partners of the Welsh Government in delivering much needed new affordable housing.’

Readers' comments (5)

  • Winnie Davies

    This pertitular " Welfare Reform " the Bedroom Tax has not been thought through, must have been written on a fag packet, can't the Government see that these policies are going to bring hardship and misery to vulnerable people causing them to beg for a little more money to pay their rent and leave them enough over to feed themselves and their children, Tenants will be living in tempory accommodation and a great many will become homeless. At the end of the day it will cost more to implement than it will save.

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  • to crucify people in this way is not good, we are having to following building regulations, which people like myself can not afford. it seems only the people with money can get on in life. this actually amounts to slavery which was supposed to of been abolished in the early 19th centuary.

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  • Steve Clarke

    It’s obviously good news that we have Ministers here in Wales who are prepared to challenge officials in London. What’s worrying is that DHP is a ‘temporary fix’ to a long term problem as more social renters struggle to pay their rents, feed their children and pay the bills. The bedroom tax is a wrecking ball to crack a nut, there are much better policy solutions to address under-occupation without having to resort to these cruel measures, quick fix, knee jerk policy considerations “is not suitable for the city”, neither should it be suitable for our poorest communities– And there lies the injustice!
    Like Winnie, we have questioned the value for money of this cruel measure. I wonder whether the gain for pain is worth the loss of faith in our political institutions to make reasoned judgements about how they serve and service the needs of the public. With such a significant claims increase in so many areas, surely they can see that this will not work as a long term measure.

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  • I think that the bedroom tax is an appalling way of getting money out of the most vulnerable. As a retired but under 65 year old I receive a staggering £110 a fortnight to live on out of which I have to pay the council £64 as I live in a 3 bedroomed property on my own, my children have left home and I have wanted to down grade but there are no smaller suitable properties available due to my disabilities, this does not leave a lot to live on by the time everything is paid. I will be giving it six months and I will be joining the numerous people that will be made homeless. I will just be living in my motorbility car

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  • John Ingleson

    Express your opposition to the Bedroom Tax.
    Please sign our petition now.

    Thank you
    John Ingleson

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