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News Article

Letter to MPs by asra's Chief Executive

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Matt - rebrand day


asra's Chief Executive, Matt Cooney, recently wrote to MPs asking them to re-think plans to pay tenants Housing Benefit directly rather than to their landlords. Read what Matt had to say:


"I know that you are aware of the "bedroom tax" and the potential impact on your constituents who rely on benefits to support their household budgets.

I thought it may be useful to let you know the impact of the Bedroom Tax on Asra.  Asra is a Housing Association that provides 13,000 homes in the East Midlands and South East with the biggest concentration in Leicester and Leicestershire.  The impact of the Bedroom Tax will be as follows,


Total No of HB customers under occupying

Average weekly shortfall per customer

Total Weekly Shortfall

Total Potential Annual Shortfall

At least one bedroom





2 or more bedrooms


















As you can see, Asra tenants will have to pay almost an additional £1.2m per annum in additional rent.  Housing Associations like Asra will have to do whatever we can to support tenants through this change and we have a number of initiatives planned to help our customers with the change.

Most people appear to support the government's welfare reforms and I suppose tenants of social landlords need to accept their share of the pain by helping the country's finances to get back on track.  However I do not think that most people support the government's intention to pay Housing Benefit direct to tenants from October of this year.

Approximately 53% of our tenants receive Housing Benefit and this is currently paid directly to us as the landlord.  The government believe that paying this direct to tenants will help people to take charge of their own affairs and will encourage less dependency.  However the recent demonstration projects to test payment direct to tenants have shown that this is not the case and rent arrears have increased for participating Housing Associations by an average of 51% (see National Housing Federation website).

Paying Housing Benefit direct to tenants will not achieve the governments social objectives, but instead, will cause significant financial damage to Housing Associations and local councils.  In short, it is a thoroughly daft idea and any help you can provide in getting it stopped would be welcomed."

Matt Cooney - Group Chief Executive


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