Housing association tenants struggling with rising living costs
A recent report has revealed that over 14,000 social housing tenants across Wales received financial support from their housing association in the first six months of this year.
Community Housing Cymru, which represents 34 Welsh housing associations, has called for urgent action from the UK and Welsh Governments to support social housing tenants, who they say have been among the hardest hit by the deepening cost of living crisis.
The findings, revealed in their Ends Won’t Meet cost of living report reveal that 74% of housing associations in Wales saw an increase in the number of people who approached them for financial support during the first six months of 2023, compared to the previous six months in 2022.
The most common reason tenants approached their housing association was to help with soaring energy costs, with 50% of housing associations surveyed saying they had offered this type of assistance. 48% also reported that tenants had approached them for help affording food, and 20% needed assistance with debt.
In addition, the survey found that between January and June, housing associations maximised tenant income by £1,000 per person on average, with 14 housing associations supporting tenants to receive a total of more than £9 million in additional income during the same period.
The majority of housing associations also offer a lifeline for tenants in financial crisis in the form of a hardship fund. In total, housing associations provide access to over £1.3million in hardship relief, and more than half (59%) have increased the amount of funds available for this financial year.
With many tenants facing an increasingly difficult winter, Community Housing Cymru has called on the UK Government to take a number of actions including an increase to benefits in line with inflation, the creation of an energy social tariff and affordable repayment options for those in debt, and a commitment that forced installation of prepayment meters does not resume.
Meanwhile, the Welsh Government is being urged to protect emergency funds and to make support easily accessible, to fund initiatives to target fuel and food poverty, and to drive higher rates of benefit take up.
Hayley Macnamara, Community Housing Cymru’s cost of living lead said: “We are now two years into the cost of living crisis and housing association tenants are facing the financial consequences of months and months of financial strain and hardship.”
“We are calling on Welsh and UK Governments to commit to supporting people living in housing associations now to prevent them from being forced to make heartbreaking decisions this winter, and encourage anyone who is concerned about financial difficulty to get in touch with their landlord for support.”
Support our Nation today
For the price of a cup of coffee a month you can help us create an independent, not-for-profit, national news service for the people of Wales, by the people of Wales.