The Welsh Local Government Association has welcomed a report by Citizens Advice Cymru outlining the impact of welfare reform on people in Wales.
Focussing on the cumulative impact of the welfare changes being made by the UK Government, the ‘One Day at a Time’ report explores the ‘lived experience’ of those affected and paints a worrying picture of the measures people are being forced to take to manage drastic reductions in their household income.
The report identifies how many of those affected by the reforms are struggling to maintain a minimum standard of living, and frequently go without basic essentials such as food, adequate heating and clothes just to meet their rent and other household bill repayments.
With benefits and tax credit related problems accounting for 42% of the 141,500 problems reported to the Citizen’s Advice Bureaux network in Wales, and with even bigger reforms around the corner, the report makes a number of recommendations on how Welsh communities can be more effectively supported in the future.
Commenting on the report, Cllr David Phillips (Swansea), WLGA Anti-poverty Spokesperson said:
“My own council, like many in Wales, works closely with Citizens Advice Cymru to assist our local communities, and our advice centers have been overwhelmed with people seeking help and information on the raft of welfare reforms affecting them. I have met many of my local residents to talk through the challenges that these reforms have created and this report supports many of the opinions that I have heard at first-hand, and in doing so it also makes a number of welcome recommendations on how local councils can best support their communities in the future.
“Local government in Wales has, from the start, been heavily focused on the welfare reform agenda, and is already working to deliver many of the recommendations outlined. Local networks have been developed to ensure that accurate and consistent information is being provided to those affected, councils are testing their ‘readiness’ to deal with future reforms, and a raft of pilot projects are underway to establish best practice in terms of responding to the significant challenges being created by sweeping reform of the welfare state.
“The WLGA, on behalf of Welsh local authorities, has for some time also been working jointly with the Department for Work and Pensions on the development of a framework for vulnerable clients which aims to provide financial and digital support for those affected by current and pending welfare reform changes. A number of partner organisations are also working with us to ensure the needs of residents are fully met as the reforms continue to impact. Joint work is also ongoing with Welsh Government to provide a more consistent approach to the reforms including Bedroom Tax, Discretionary Assistance Fund, Council Tax Reduction Scheme and Universal credit.
“Local government in Wales will continue to work closely with the Citizens Advice Bureaux, and its wider partners, as it works to lessen the impact of these reforms on their local communities.”