Housing, Regeneration and Heritage Questions 1st November 2011 – Housing Benefit

Mark Drakeford: Pa asesiad y mae’r Gweinidog wedi’i wneud o effaith newidiadau arfaethedig i’r budd-dal tai ar denantiaid yng Nghymru.
[What assessment has the Minister made of the impact of proposed changes to housing benefit on tenants in Wales]

Huw Lewis: I thank the Member for Cardiff West for his question. I am very concerned about the financial implications for the vast majority of local housing allowance claimants. My officials are working closely, as I have said, with local authorities. We are also jointly funding a research programme, with the Department for Work and Pensions, to monitor the impacts of the changes.

Mark Drakeford: You have dealt extensively this afternoon with the impact of housing benefit changes on private sector tenants. However, these changes will have an impact on people in the public rented sector as well. I recently met a number of residents who were distressed due to the bills that they had now received because of the increase in non-dependant deductions from benefits, which they simply had no way of paying. When these people find themselves at the sharp end of all of this, they will begin to claim from the homelessness budgets. Can you give us an assurance that, as part of the monitoring that you are carrying out, you will be looking at the impact of housing benefit changes on public sector tenants and the impact that they will have on demands relating to homelessness in Wales?

Huw Lewis: Of course I will give that assurance. It is an issue of enormous concern. It causes me a great deal of worry, and I do not think that anyone has an exact picture, yet, of how this is going to affect the housing situation across Wales as a whole. The signals that we are getting early on from our surgeries, as the Member has mentioned—all of us have probably picked this up already—are very ominous indeed.