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67% of Welsh housing associations report rise in food bank referrals

08 Dec 2023 3 minute read
Foodbank picture by Andy Buchanan / PA Wire.

Sixty seven percent of Welsh housing associations saw an increase in the number of people they referred to food banks in the first six months of this year, new figures have shown.

Community Housing Cymru (CHC), which represents 34 not-for-profit housing associations across Wales, revealed the stark figures in its newly launched Ends Won’t Meet cost of living research report.

CHC surveyed Welsh housing associations on the impact of the ongoing cost of living crisis on tenants and vital services, and found that more than 1,800 people living in housing association homes were referred by their landlord to emergency food banks between January and June 2023.

Support

Food is among the top reasons why people approached their landlord for financial support in the first six months of 2023, accounting for 38% of asks for support.

Soaring energy prices and other debts were also leading concerns, accounting for 50% and 59% of approaches to landlords respectively.

In total, housing associations supported more than 14,000 people struggling with the rising cost of living in just the first six months of 2023.

Specialised housing association teams continue to provide support for tenants in need in a range of different ways, including providing food vouchers and urgent food parcels, putting on cooking courses for those on a budget, and working with local food partnerships to deliver supplies.

They are also supporting tenants through their dedicated hardship funds, with over £1.3 million in emergency funding available for those in need to access in
the current financial year.

Food is also the top reason that tenants needed hardship funding support, however, with 63% of housing associations accessing these funds to support people struggling with rising food costs.

Community Housing Cymru is now calling on the UK and Welsh Governments to take urgent action to support social housing tenants, who have been among the hardest hit by the ongoing cost of living crisis.

Food poverty

Hayley Macnamara, Community Housing Cymru’s cost of living lead, said: “This
increase in the number of urgent food bank referrals is heartbreaking. Food must be affordable, and it is crucial that Welsh Government continues to fund vital initiatives that target food poverty, and support higher rates of benefit take up.

“It is also vital at this hugely challenging time that existing emergency funds are
protected and routes to support are accessible and targeted to those who need
them most.

“We are calling on the UK and Welsh governments to act now to ensure people
living in housing association homes are supported to make ends meet.

“We encourage anyone living in a housing association home in Wales to get in
touch with their landlord if they are concerned about their finances.”

Read Community Housing Cymru’s full Ends Won’t Meet report here.


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