Housing Trust cracks down on rent arrears
Published by Laura Beckett for Halton Housing Trust in Housing and also in Bill Payments
Halton Housing Trust has warned customers that they could lose their homes if they continually fail to pay their rent after four families were evicted last month.
Non-payment of rent is an issue that the Trust takes very seriously and it has urged all customers in arrears to make rent their top priority this Christmas.
Maureen Forshaw, the Trust’s Income Maximisation Manager said: “The majority of our customers pay their rent on time or if they do have arrears, they’ll do everything possible to set up a repayment plan. “But there’s a small minority of customers who choose not to pay their rent. Eviction is a last resort but people could unfortunately lose their homes if they fail to engage us with us to set up an agreement to reduce any outstanding arrears.
The Trust’s Welfare Benefit Advice team is working hard to educate customers that rent is a priority debt. “Some of our customers, and I say ‘some’, are paying off non priority debts such as loan repayments, mobile phone costs and Sky bills, before their rent ” said Maureen. “I urge all customers to think before they buy and make sure they have enough money left for their rent.”
The Welfare Benefit Advice team is committed to helping customers manage their finances. As well as helping with debt, the team also helps customers apply for welfare benefits and this year they have generated over £650,000 in welfare benefits for customers who need it most.
In 2012, over 1000 low income customers received help to claim a wide range of benefits, ranging from job seekers allowance to state pensions, transforming their lives and their finances. The most struggling groups including disabled, elderly and out of work customers are now on average £651per year better off.
Maureen said: “Quite often, the most financially vulnerable groups aren’t aware of the benefits they are entitled to and struggle to pay their rent and bills. With the upcoming welfare reform changes, educating our customers is more important than ever.”
Customers are advised to request a home visit or call the dedicated advice line every Tuesday if they would like advice. To speak to a member of the team, call 0151 510 5023 between 9.30am-4.30pm. If calling any other day, please leave a voicemail and a staff member will return your call.