New Charter is keeping tenants afloat
Published by Peter Bird for New Charter Group in Housing and also in Communities
New Charter's SWAT Team
Sink or Swim,’ is the message New Charter Housing Trust will be taking out into their neighbourhoods over the coming months.
In response to the forthcoming Welfare Reform changes, New Charter Homes has set up a specialist, dedicated welfare advice team (SWAT) to help tenants keep their heads above water.
So, SWAT’s it all about?
The SWAT team will be carrying out door-to-door visits to tenants, offering advice and support on the under-occupancy (bedroom tax) and Universal Credit changes that will be coming into effect in April 2013 in Tameside and Oldham. The team is made up of tenants and staff to offer a comprehensive service, whereby residents can help to support each other.
Martin Frost, Deputy Chief Executive said: “As part of Welfare Reform, one of the biggest changes will see housing benefit cut for working age tenants who have a spare bedroom in their home. As a Group we have been looking into the impact of Welfare Reform for some time now and the SWAT team is the pro-active approach we are taking to support our tenants through this change. It’s important that tenants have specialists to speak to who they can trust.
Martin adds: “Welfare Reform is the biggest threat to the social housing sector in a very long time and we must do what we can to make sure we minimise the impact on tenants. We feel it’s important to involve tenants as they can closely relate to the challenges our residents face.”
New Charter has been researching ways to make tenants aware of the introduction of Universal Credit, the government’s new single benefit for working age claimants, and how this will affect them.
Another big change will mean that tenants will no longer have the choice to have their rent paid direct to their landlord - this will be a whole new process for some people to deal with. Also, it is expected that claims will have to be made online.
New Charter tenants are encouraged to get in touch - SWAT is here to help. It’s going to be a difficult time for many people, but New Charter can provide advice and help you to find solutions. A service is also available on New Charter’s website for tenants to check themselves if they will be affected by the under-occupancy changes. In addition, the landlord has dedicated debt advice and welfare benefit advice teams that helped tenants claim more than £600,000 in benefits last year alone.
Tameside, Oldham, Wigan and Warrington MBC’s have been named as the four ‘pathfinder’ councils which will run the Universal Credit system for six months before the national changes come into action in October 2013.