CRESR

The impact of welfare reform on the UK's Social Housing Sector

The roll out of Universal Credit is at the heart of the Coalition Government's programme of welfare reform and it represents one of the most important changes to the welfare system for many years. Under Universal Credit, claimants will receive one monthly benefit and be responsible for payment of all out-goings, including rent. At the same time, several welfare reform measures have been introduced with the aim of reducing the national expenditure on welfare payments.

These reforms have had a major impact on the social housing sector in the UK, and CRESRs recent research has included a range of key studies aimed at understanding this impact for housing organisations and tenants.

CRESR's work includes the three year national evaluation of the Government's trial of direct payment of Housing Benefit to social tenants in six demonstration projects across Britain, an evaluation of a local direct payment project, a survey of social landlords assessing their readiness for welfare reforms and research into the future housing options for low-income households in the South Wales Valleys and the Southeast of England. These studies have revealed that tenants often encounter difficulties managing direct payment and that landlord's need to mitigate against the risk of increasing rent arrears. Although the government withdrew its plans for introducing the Local Housing Allowance to the social housing sector, there is a growing affordability crisis for some cohorts of tenants who are being 'priced out' of the social housing sector.

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