Monitoring the impact of welfare reform

Find out about the Federation’s project to assess the impact of the Government’s welfare reforms on housing associations and tenants.

4 September 2012

The Federation’s work to ensure that the voice of social housing is central to the debate surrounding Welfare Reform took another large step forward today with the publication of the first research report from Ipsos Mori and Cambridge University.

Firstly, thank you to all of the members who took part in the research – your contribution to this important work has been invaluable.

This first report looks at the likely impact of welfare reform on housing associations. You may already have heard some findings from the report as it was featured on the BBC News at Ten. In an exclusive arranged by the Federation, BBC News home editor Mark Easton interviewed Mike Doran , Managing Director of Plus Dane, who spoke about the possible impact on their business. This was presented alongside a film about a Plus Dane tenant , highlighting a powerful story about who will be affected by the changes.

Some of the key findings include:

  • Of all the reforms, the introduction of direct payments to tenants is expected to have the biggest impact on housing associations – more than 80% of housing associations say it will affect their organisations a great deal or a fair amount
  • The bedroom tax is anticipated to have a significant impact for more than 60% of associations
  • 84% of associations believe that rent arrears will increase as a direct result of welfare changes - the average increase expected is 51%
  • Housing associations are facing the challenges of welfare reform head on - more than nine in ten (95%) have begun to look at the risks and opportunities and are planning to spend an average of around £50,000 each in 2013 to prepare for the impact
  • Regional supplements to the report will be available next week that will provide a useful tool for the Federation and members in discussions with local politicians and stakeholders.

As can be seen in the statistics above, this research provides evidence for the concerns we and our members have been voicing since the changes were first proposed. Armed with this information, we will be able to make a stronger case in our lobbying and public affairs work, highlighting the key issues in implementing the policy, and to influence future government thinking.

As the date for the introduction of the first changes approaches, we can expect a wave of additional announcements and an increased need for information and support as the effects are felt. We have been working with members to identify practical ways to support their work on welfare reform both regionally and nationally, so they are equipped to engage effectively with decision-makers and influencers. As part of this work, we will create a range of practical tools and will advise members when they are available.

We will continue to update members of any announcements concerning the implementation details of the welfare changes via our website , our welfare reform update newsletter and the LinkedIn Group .