Housing help is at hand for benefit change
THE biggest social landlord in Neath and Port Talbot has advisors standing by to help thousands of tenants hit by benefits reforms.
Some of the biggest changes to the welfare system in decades will come into force next April.
NPT Homes, which is responsible for more than 9,000 former council houses and flats across the county, says the changes will affect around 3,000 tenants.
It has already sent out letters to those likely to be caught out by the reforms, and is preparing to visit them to offer advice.
An NPT Homes spokeswoman said: "Changes will include an under occupation charge, which means anyone on housing benefit deemed by the Government to have too many bedrooms will see a reduction in their benefit payments.
"This change, known as the bedroom tax, affects people of working age only so will not impact upon pensioners.
"Another major change on the way is how benefits are paid.
"At the moment housing benefit is paid directly to NPT Homes, but from next October tenants will receive all their benefits directly and will have to budget all their finances and make arrangements to pay rent.
"This is to be a gradual process and is expected to take four years before everybody is affected and transferred to Universal Credit."
NPT Homes' specialist financial inclusion team has already sent letters to all those tenants that will affected by the bedroom tax, which comes into force in April.
NPT Homes chief executive Linda Whittaker said: "The welfare reform changes will impact on many of our tenants, many of which may be vulnerable, have large families or disabilities.
"The changes will have a significant impact for those who may already be struggling and could result in them having to find extra money every month to pay rent, which they simply do not have.
"Our financial inclusion team is on hand to support our tenants who will be affected by the changes."