Landlord in talks with major high street banks ahead of welfare shake-up
Published by 24publishing for 24dash.com in Housing and also in Communities, Local Government
Landlord in talks with major high street lenders ahead of welfare shake-up
A housing association says it has worked with major high street banks, including Barclays and Lloyds, to encourage the provision of basic accounts for its tenants ahead of one of the "most challenging years the housing sector has ever faced".
In its annual report, mhs homes - which covers the Medway area in the South East - posted a £7.7m surplus before gift aid, £4.1m more than in the previous year.
However, it warned that changes to benefits - including the removal of direct payment to landlords - would pose "enormous challenges".
The 8,000-home association said it was already planning for Government changes to benefits which it said would impact significantly on its customers.
In the last year it raised £262,000 in unclaimed benefits for residents through welfare advice sessions. Despite this, however, 36 households were evicted due to rent arrears.
Its rent arrears performance for the last year was 1.62% against a target of 1.5%, with arrears stretching to over £550,000.
It said it had worked with Lloyds, Barclays and the Co-op to encourage provision of basic bank accounts and is promoting the use of direct debit as the most cost effective way of paying rent.
Chair Ashley West said: "The welfare reforms coming into effect from April 2013 represent the biggest shake-up of the welfare system since the Beveridge report in 1942. The introduction of a benefits cap, under-occupation reductions, Universal Credit and the removal of direct payment will have a huge impact on our customers. In turn these controversial reforms pose enormous challenges for mhs homes."
The landlord has pledged to invest £50 million in 300 new homes during the next four years, with 123 properties completed in the last financial year.