Direct payments will require landlord to collect extra £23m a year
Published by 24publishing for 24dash.com in Housing and also in Communities, Local Government
Direct payments requires landlord to collect extra £23m
A housing association has warned that the move to pay housing benefit directly to tenants as part of Universal Credit will require it to collect an extra £23m in income each year.
Golden Gates Housing Trust (GGHT) - which owns and manages nearly 9,000 homes in Warrington - has launched a campaign to let its customers know about significant welfare reform changes.
Warrington has been named as one of four 'pathfinder' councils which will run the Universal Credit system for six months before the national changes come into action in October 2013.
It says measures being introduced next year - which will see tenants with spare bedrooms hit with housing benefit cuts - will directly affect more than 3,000 of its households.
However, it's the move to Universal Credit - which will replace means-tested benefits i.e. Housing Benefit, Income Support, Income-Based JSA, Income-Related ESA, Working Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit - from next year that could really jeopardise its income stream.
Peter Fitzhenry, director of housing management, said: "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 our tenants. We know there are still a lot of people who currently receive housing benefit who are not aware of the impact the Government's changes will have on their day-to-day living.
"It's important that anyone who has concerns about how Welfare Reform will affect their income gets in touch. We can assist with simple advice to manage their money and also deal with debt issues."
'Making Benefit Changes Work For You’, is the message that GGHT will be taking out into its neighbourhoods over the coming months.
The campaign was launched in September and has so far seen GGHT staff along with partners provide residents with vital money advice and help in preparing for the coming changes.
Staff from across GGHT will also be telephoning and carrying out door-to-door visits to tenants, offering advice and support ahead of the changes that will be coming into effect in April 2013 in Warrington. The Trust has also set up a dedicated section on its website to provide information on the changes and are encouraging customers to like their Facebook page to receive further updates.
Other initiatives the trust is engaging in include introducing a pre-tenancy service to provide new tenants information on the changes before they find a new home and providing free training on budgeting to new and existing tenants.
It's also supporting the Warrington Food Bank, a local partnership providing up to three days of food for those experiencing hardship.
Image: Members of the Trust’s welfare advice team with customer information.