Housing associations and welfare reform: facing up to the realities

Cambridge Centre for Housing and Planning Research report looking at how housing associations have responded to changes.

15 May 2014

Based on in-depth interviews with 15 housing associations across England, this report highlights the changes experienced by housing associations since last April. It documents some of the strategic responses, from amending policies and practices, reviewing development plans to mobilising staff from across different departments to face the new challenges.

Overall, the associations saw themselves as coping well and felt that they would be able to manage current arrears levels if no further problems arose. However, they did report that some tenants seemed to be facing an ever increasing burden, faced with an accumulation of changes including the bedroom tax, the changes in council tax benefit and rising utility costs.
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One year on: The impact of welfare reforms on housing association tenants

Ipsos MORI research report looking at the impacts of welfare reform specifically from the tenant perspective.

27 May 2014

Part of the major research project carried out by Ipsos MORI on our behalf, this report assesses the impact of the bedroom tax and other welfare reform after one year. It is based on a nationally representative survey of working age tenants on Housing Benefit that have been affected by the size criteria together with a control sample of working age tenants on Housing Benefit not affected by the size criteria.

The survey found:
Tenants affected by the bedroom tax are nearly four times as likely to say that they have needed to borrow money to help pay the rent since 1st April 2013 (46%) as before 1st April 2013 (12%). Non-affected tenants are not significantly more likely to say that they have needed to borrow money to help pay their rent since 1st April 2013.
In response to being affected by the bedroom tax, tenants report spending less money on food (32%) and heating/energy (26%).
Tenants who are affected by the size criteria are considerably more likely than non-affected tenants to say that they are concerned (either very or fairly) with;
- falling behind with the rent (76% vs 46%)
- having enough income to cover all living costs and bills (89% vs 74%)
- being evicted from their home (70% vs 53%)
- having to move away from family and friends (73% vs 54%).

These results are supplemented with more detailed qualitative evidence from a series of in-depth interviews with tenants affected by the reforms.

How to Budget for a Monthly Benefit Payment

Feeling out of control when it comes to money can be scary, especially if you don’t know whether you’ve got enough to live on. Getting a single monthly Universal Credit payment may be making you even more nervous about keeping your head above water. The only way to manage your money is to draw up a household budget.

Here is some good advice on how to budget and to prepare yourself for Universal Credit.
Money Advice Service

Universal Credit Coming to Dundee

At the time of writing Universal Credit is to be rolled out in Dundee from February 2015. Universal Credit is basically a new way of paying benefits. It brings together several different benefits and combines them into one monthly payment which will be paid straight into a claimant’s bank account.

Universal Credit is a means tested benefit for people of working age. Part of the declared intent behind Universal Credit is to enable people to return to work although it is also open to people in work, sick or disabled, caring for children under the age of 1 or someone with a disability. Consequently in broad terms to claim Universal Credit a person will be expected to take action to find work. The person will have to agree to a ‘Claimant Commitment’ which identifies what they are going to do to find work or indeed a better job or earn more money, an Action Plan in effect. This plan should take into consideration aspects of a person’s life which could impact on their ability to work, for example their health or caring duties at home. There is also in-work conditionality. For further information on Universal Credit conditionality

Positively it encourages people to find employment by not restricting the hours you can work. The benefit paid will be reduced as the person earns more which means those people on a low income will not lose all their benefits at once. Continue reading