Minister launches online support to help vulnerable tenants
The Welsh Government Minister for Housing, Huw Lewis AM, today launched an online ‘toolkit’ of resources that will help local authorities, private landlords and credit unions to work together to help support vulnerable tenants at risk of homelessness due to proposed welfare benefit changes.
Changes to the way housing benefit will be paid under Universal Credit rules will place much greater emphasis on the claimant to budget their finances effectively and prioritise their debts accordingly. It is argued that some vulnerable householders do not have the means to do this, placing them at greater risk of rent arrears, eviction and potential homelessness.
The Tackling Homelessness through Financial Inclusion (THFI) project promotes the use of credit unions to support vulnerable householders to budget effectively, by ring-fencing housing benefit for the payment of rent. The online toolkit launched today is expected to help local authorities and credit unions to develop local models to support vulnerable tenants maintain tenancies, and promote the scheme to private landlords who can take action to help their tenants.
As he launched the new toolkit, the Minister said: “Sadly, in the current economic climate and with the impact of welfare reform likely to be felt keenly in Wales, tackling homelessness is a continuing challenge. Ensuring people have access to the best information and options for managing their rent is vitally important in preventing homelessness so I am delighted that this toolkit will help organisations to work together to help people in need.”
The THFI project is being delivered by the Wales Co-operative Centre and is supported by a number of key organisations involved in the housing agenda in Wales, such as Shelter Cymru, Chartered Institute of Housing, Cymorth Cymru and the National Landlords Association.
Derek Walker, Chief Executive of the Wales Co-operative Centre, said: “This toolkit helps organisations to collaborate together and support the most vulnerable householders who will feel the impact of welfare benefit reform. The concept being promoted is not new; it has been working very effectively in other parts of the UK, and we are keen to build on this existing best practice and promote this scheme as widely as possible across Wales to help maintain tenancies”
The aim of the THFI project is to encourage around 7,000 vulnerable tenants in the private rented sector to open credit union rent or budgeting accounts by 2015.