Riverside’s money advisors to target vulnerable tenants
Published by Roisin Rowley-Smith for Riverside in Bill Payments and also in Central Government, Communities, Housing
Riverside is piloting a money advice service for tenants in the South East of England and Newcastle, in a bid to stop people descending into a spiral of debt.
Three new advisors, based in the social landlord’s customer service centre in Merseyside, are calling vulnerable tenants to offer money or welfare benefits advice.
Initially they are targeting people who are in rent arrears and not in receipt of housing benefit. And before April 2013 they will target tenants who have spare bedrooms and are in danger of having their benefits cut if they do not move to a smaller property, in line with the government’s ‘bedroom tax’.
Laura Bostock is Riverside’s financial inclusion officer. “This is the first time we have proactively contacted tenants who we know are in danger of slipping into serious debt to offer them advice,” said Laura. “We already have money advisors working within our divisions nationwide, but people do need to seek out their services.
Our new advisors will reach people who may not be aware that they could potentially lose their home if they don’t tackle rent arrears. There is help available, either through better money management, access to welfare benefits, or referral to other specialist services.”
The call centre money advisors are working alongside colleagues based in local offices who will be carrying out home visits for tenants not accessible by phone.
Laura added: “We will be monitoring the service and if it proves successful we will roll it out across the country. This is just one project aimed at reducing the negative impact of the welfare benefits changes introduced by this government. If too many of our tenants fall into rent arrears, as a result of welfare benefit cuts or changes, the impact on social housing providers could be catastrophic, seriously impeding our ability to build new homes or invest in neighbourhood services.”