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'Reforms may leave more homeless'

By South Wales Evening Post  |  Posted: November 22, 2012

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WELFARE reforms could lead to a rise in the number of homeless in Wales — and force more people to turn to loan sharks, according to a housing organisation.

The Universal Credit, which is part of the coalition Government's shake-up of the welfare system, will replace most existing benefits and limit the total amount of benefit a person can claim.

The UK Government's Welfare Reform Act also introduces a so-called "bedroom tax" in the social rented sector, and replaces disability living allowance with a Personal Independence Payment.

But Community Housing Cymru, which represents housing associations in Wales, has warned any savings generated by the changes would be far outweighed by the cost of people losing their homes. The CHC and other charities have launched a campaign to urge people to seek advice.

Nick Bennett, group chief executive of CHC, said: "In 2009 we launched a campaign about the dangers of high-interest lending because there were an estimated 150,000 people in Wales using high-interest door step lenders and a further 15,000 using loan sharks."

The Right Reverend John Davies, bishop of Swansea and Brecon, has also warned of the disruption faced by an increase in homelessness.

He said: "Homelessness, or the threat of homelessness, will cause huge disruption for families across Wales and for society at large.

"Everyone deserves a roof over their head and anything that impacts on that is socially destructive."

The concerns come on the heels of a warning by Welsh local government minister Carl Sargeant.

Last month, Mr Sargeant raised concerns with UK ministers in London about changes to the benefits system. When the new system is introduced next year, benefits will be paid to one member of the household.

Mr Sargeant warned the welfare reforms could make it harder for female victims of domestic abuse to leave violent partners. But the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) said payments can be split in cases of domestic abuse.

Launching a campaign warning about the signs of domestic abuse, he said: "This single payment to one family member could have a detrimental effect on victims of domestic abuse who are still living with their partners.

"It is likely to make it harder for an abused partner to leave a violent relationship if they have no financial independence.

"This may result in them having to pay double rent for both the refuge and their existing property.

"I will press the UK Government as to whether they will agree to take this into account when an application for payment to refuge is received."

The coalition Government says that millions of people in the UK have become trapped on benefits.

They say at present, in nearly 1.1 million workless households, a person will currently lose more than 70 per cent of their earnings if they move into work of ten hours a week, and they want to introduce a system where people are always better off in work than they would be on benefits.

The Universal Credit will merge six benefits into a single payment.

It means somebody receiving Jobseeker's allowance and housing benefit will instead be paid in one single payment.

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  • tomitma  |  November 23 2012, 6:52AM

    You would think, that the many landlords, that let property, would lower there rents, knowing that many people being paid Local Housing Allowance, will not be getting the full rent, to pay the landlord. But that is too simple for these money grabbers, they are putting the rents up, and refusing to let to people who are claiming benefits. A single person under the age of 35 will only be allowed the rate for a shared house, or 1 bedsitting room, there are very few properties of this kind around this area, and the few that are, are nothing more but slums. It is very sad. but it is evident that by this time next year there will be thousands if not millions of people that are homeless. Even people who have had the secure tenancy of the council for the last 30/40 years will be at risk, because of bedroom tax, for every empty room they will have to pay 14% out of there pensions/benefits. The new ruling states that if you have a separate dining room that is also counted as a bedroom. so the 14%% percent is paid on a dining room as well. God help us, because the Government isn't.

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  • KP287  |  November 22 2012, 11:30PM

    The word is WILL not may, it`s not rocket science...

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  • muffinman235  |  November 22 2012, 7:30PM

    Universal credit is going to be the final nail in the coffin for many vulnerable people, and will result in many cases of suicide. This coupled with the Governments "bedroom tax" and massive cuts to welfare, plus Disability living allowance to Personal independance payment will drive people to despair, and many rather than become homeless will take their own lives. It is a very sad endictment that this Condem Government can find billions in Foreign Aid, and yet it chooses to rage a relentless attack on its own citizens, stripping them of any dignity and quality of life they have. Eviction notices will soar next year resulting in local councils employing more and more bailiffs to do the Government's dirty work. But it is okay for the MP'S to claim for a second home and hire out their luxurious first home to fellow mp's. one law for them, and another for us. truly sickening.

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