Huw Lewis, Minister for Housing, Regeneration and Heritage and Carl Sargeant, Minister for Local Government and Communities
Preventing homelessness is one of the Welsh Government’s key housing priorities as set out in the Housing White Paper published in May 2012.The Welsh Government believes that the reductions to housing benefit proposed by the UK Government could pose a real threat to maintaining people and families in their homes, especially for people who are on lower incomes or who are financially excluded.
The Welsh Government’s Tackling Poverty Action Plan will bring together the levers available to the Welsh Government and our social partners to help communities and individuals out of poverty and homelessness. Support to organisations committed to tackling poverty, financial exclusion and homelessness continues to be of particular relevance in a climate of forthcoming changes to the welfare and benefit arrangements being introduced by the UK Government, especially in relation to the proposals for the payment of housing benefit.
The Welsh Government is taking action to reduce the risk of homelessness for people most affected by the proposed welfare reforms and has awarded funding of £150,234 over three years to support the 'Tackling Homelessness through Financial Inclusion' project.
The project jointly funded with the philanthropic Oak Foundation is being delivered by the Wales Co-operative Centre. In collaboration with the network of Welsh Credit Unions, this project will enable people on low incomes to have their housing benefit paid to their landlord through a credit union account, thus helping to create a more stable payment arrangement with the landlord. At the same time, it will encourage people to establish an ongoing relationship with their local credit union attracting the benefits that a credit union can offer: a safe place for savings and affordable credit when needed.
By September 2015, it is expected that more than 6,800 new credit union rent accounts will have been opened during the project lifetime. The success of this project will depend on effective collaborative working across the public, voluntary and private sectors to improve the financial security of people across Wales and help prevent them becoming homeless in future.
The Welsh Government is continuing to support the network of Welsh Credit Unions to offer information, support and access to affordable financial products. As ethical providers of affordable personal finance, these mutual co-operatives offer people most a risk of over indebtedness in our communities an affordable alternative to high cost and doorstep lenders.