Universal Credit not covering the 'cost of renting' in Wales

Credit: PA Images

Single young people in Wales claiming Universal Credit are having to face the choice between paying for food and bills or paying their rent, a new report has claimed.

Homeless charity Crisis said it does not cover the "true cost of renting" and is calling for changes to be made to the payment.

It said in the most severe cases, increasing their risk of homelessness.

According to the report, some of the least affordable areas in Wales include Caerphilly and the Vale of Glamorgan, where no rooms in shared housing were affordable to those receiving Universal Credit.

Credit: PA

Universal Credit is replacing several other benefits including housing benefit, income support, and jobseeker's allowance. It's a monthly payment for people of working age and is designed to top up income to a minimum level.

On top of the standard allowance, extra is paid if a claimant has children, has a disability or health condition which impacts on their ability to work, or if the claimant needs help paying rent.

In Neath and Port Talbot the proportion was just 1%, while in Swansea just 8% of accommodation was affordable.

Local Housing Allowance was frozen in 2016, which the charity says has led to "fewer and fewer homes" being affordable.

The Job Centre for Universal Credit claimants in Port Talbot. Credit: PA

A National Assembly update from March 2019 estimated around a third of households in Wales will claim Universal Credit in some form by 2023.

The UK Government had intended the roll-out of Universal Credit to be complete by October 2017. According to National Assembly figures, the rollout of Universal Credit is just 17% complete in Wales.

Homeless charity Crisis says the system can help prevent homelessness "with the right investment".

A spokesperson for the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) said funding has been provided to help people with housing costs and to tackle the root of homelessness.

Read more: Welsh housing association tenants on Universal Credit in £2m rent arrear debt