More than 14,000 Welsh social housing tenants received “vital” financial support from their housing association in the first six months of this year, according to a new report.
Community Housing Cymru (CHC) surveyed HAs across Wales to find out how increasing living costs are affecting tenants, and how providers are supporting the people who live in their homes.
CHC, which represents 34 HAs across Wales, is now calling for urgent action by the UK and Welsh governments to support social housing tenants.
CHC’s report, ‘Ends Won’t Meet’, reveals that 74% of HAs in Wales saw an increase in the number of people who approached them for financial support during the first six months of 2023, compared to the previous six months in 2022.
Single parents and single person homes were found to be among the most likely to have needed financial support during this period.
The most common reason tenants approached their HA was to help with soaring energy costs, with 50% of HAs surveyed saying they had offered this type of assistance. Nearly half (48%) also reported that tenants had approached them for help affording food, and 20% needed assistance with debt.
Specialised housing association teams have been supporting tenants who have approached them with other money concerns too, helping them to maximise their income, build long-term financial resilience, and offer other financial support.
In addition, the survey found that between January and June HAs maximised tenant income by £1,000 per person on average, with HAs supporting tenants to receive a total of more than £9 million in additional income during the same period.
The majority of HAs also offer a lifeline for tenants in financial crisis in the form of a hardship fund. In total, HAs provide access to over £1.3 million in hardship relief, and more than half (59%) have increased the amount of funds available for this financial year.
Hayley Macnamara, CHC’s cost of living lead, called for urgent action to be taken to support social housing tenants who could be facing an increasingly difficult winter.
She said: “We are now two years into the cost-of-living crisis and housing association tenants are facing the financial consequences of months and months of financial strain and hardship.
“Our report shows the devastating impact rising living costs continue to have on people on the lowest income, including many living in housing association homes.
“While housing associations are doing all they can to help people facing difficulties, It’s absolutely crucial that they get the urgent financial support they need to afford the basic essentials.
“We are calling on Welsh and UK governments to commit to supporting people living in housing associations now to prevent them from being forced to make heart-breaking decisions this winter.
“We would encourage anyone living in a housing association home who is concerned about financial difficulty to get in touch with their landlord for support.”