New bill annoucements set to cause further hardship

Interrogation by the Welsh Tenants of DWP data, reveals there are 247,922 claimants in receipt of housing benefit in Wales as of February 2015. 17,522 are under the age of 25 or around 7% of total claimants in Wales. This compares to 6% in the UK as a whole. 7,173 of under 25’s have no dependent children whereas those with 1 child is 7,733; 2 children 2,195; 3 children 405; 4 children 40; and 5 or more 6.

The conservative government, as anticipated, has announced plans that will mean 16-21 years olds will no longer have the guaranteed access to housing benefit, should they require it.

The recently announced Full Employment and Welfare Benefits Bill is said to be designed to achieve full employment “and provide more people with the security of a job”. As part of the extension of UK government’s welfare reforms, young people will be required to “earn or learn”, with automatic entitlement to housing benefit for 18-21-year-olds scrapped.

While the aim of providing two million more jobs and three million new apprenticeships is to be welcomed, the reality is, that young people in Wales will find it extremely difficult under these new proposals with 60% of under 25’s in Wales with children.

Without enhanced access to childcare and other support mechanisms in place, it is difficult to see how these measure will not mean an extension of sanctions to welfare claimants, which is already at an all time high, meaning more people will be at risk of losing their home.

The new bill has also confirm the planned reduction in the welfare cap – from £26,000 to £23,000, and freeze working-age benefits, tax credit and child benefit for two years. What is becoming clear, is that never before will there be a need for support to help people sustain their tenancies – unfortunately, even with the new duty on local authorities to prevent homeloss under the Housing (Wales Act) what is becoming clear – is that the task of doing that has just got a whole lot harder.

Steve Clarke, Welsh Tenants

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