Tenants urged to cash in on advice
Published by Riverside for Riverside in Housing and also in Communities
Hull Energy Advisor Emma Smith
A money saving expert has joined Riverside’s recession-busting team in North Bransholme.
The housing association - which is ploughing £15 million into the Hull estate as part of a five-year regeneration programme - has appointed a dedicated Money Advisor in a bid to lessen the impact of the government’s Welfare Reform Act.
Emma Smith is the latest recruit to help tenants cope with rising fuel costs and benefit cuts. She will work alongside Energy Advisor Lisa Hilton and Employment and Training Officer Kerry Glaister.
Emma’s role is to help people budget better and claim benefits they may be unaware of, as well as referring them to credit unions or debt specialists. The tailor made service is for those in rent arrears, or tenants who are worried about how to make their money go further.
She said: “Many of our tenants are feeling the pinch and we are keen to make sure that they don’t descend into further debt. It’s not just those on benefits that are struggling. Lots of working people are finding it hard to make ends meet, due to job hours being cut and escalating day to day expenses.”
Emma – who is one of six local office-based Money Advisors appointed across the country – complements Riverside’s central team based at the Customer Service Centre in Merseyside.
Laura Bostock, Riverside’s Financial Inclusion Manager, said: “It’s not always possible to speak to people on the phone, so Emma and the other locally based advisors are visiting those in danger of slipping through the net.”
Under the Welfare Reform Act, which comes into force next April, working age tenants who under-occupy their homes, could see benefit cuts averaging £14 per week unless they move to a smaller property. Riverside estimates that around 7,000 of its tenants could be affected.
Laura Bostock added: “The initial response from tenants shows that two thirds who may be affected not want to move to a smaller property, particularly those who have family ties and support networks close by. Half will have difficulty paying their rent. Emma will be helping them find ways to maximise their income.”