Gentoo hold Mutual Exchange Swap Shops
Published by Anonymous for Gentoo Group in Care and Support and also in Bill Payments, Central Government, Communities, Housing
Gentoo has been helping tenants to find a new home, by putting on swap-shop events in their local areas. The aim of these events is to match customers that are looking for a smaller home with those looking for a larger home.
These events supplement the current Mutual Exchange online service that allows customers to advertise their own property as well as search for a suitable swap by area, estate or number of bedrooms. The swap-shop events give residents the opportunity to meet other people face to face who are also registered for the service to see if they could find a suitable swap. In addition, staff are also on hand if customers are worried about issues such as debt, benefit entitlement and money management.
From April 2013, the Government reduced the amount of housing benefit paid to people of working age who have ‘spare’ bedrooms in their homes. Gentoo has identified just over 4,400 of its customers who, under the Governments definition, are deemed to be under-occupying, with the average cost to households being over £650 per year. If customers can’t afford the shortfall and would like to downsize, Mutual Exchange is one of the ways they could find a smaller property.
University and social landlord collaborative research has found the Department of Work and Pensions may have significantly over-estimated the savings from the bedroom tax.
The University of York worked with Riverside, Wigan and Leigh Housing, Affinity Sutton and Gentoo to apply figures based on the experience of the housing associations tenants to a model used by the DWP to estimate the savings reported to parliament in impact assessments in 2011 and 2012.
Since the introduction of the ‘bedroom tax’ there has been a sharp increase in the amount of people registering for Mutual Exchange, and to date over 1200 customers are registered for the service. Since April, over 200 customers have swapped homes using this service, with nearly 45% of swaps being made by people affected by the ‘bedroom tax’.
Ian Porter, Managing Director of Gentoo Sunderland said: “A number of customers are on the look out for a more suitably sized home, in particular those who are struggling financially and want to downsize due to the bedroom tax. Gentoo is committed to supporting customers through Welfare Reform changes and we have been working closely with those affected to make sure they know what options are available to them. These events are a great way to help customers swap homes, not only do they benefit customers who are under occupying but those who need larger homes to accommodate a growing family.”
Over 80 customers have attended these events so far, resulting in ten home swaps. One customer was living alone in 4-bedroom property, and as she was under occupying by 3-bedrooms she was loosing 25% of her housing benefit. By attending the event she managed to find a suitable swap with a couple who needed a four bedroom home. .
If customers would like to register to Mutual Exchange or for further information they will need to visit gentoogroup.com/mutualexchange or pick up a leaflet from one of Gentoo’s local offices.
Gentoo Group’s whole ethos is about believing nothing is impossible and finding new ways to challenge conventions, Gentoo aims to make society a better place to live and to make a real difference to the way people live their life. To find out more about Gentoo, visit gentoogroup.com for more information or follow @gentoogroup on Twitter.