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Welfare reform: Landlord restructures to create 17 permanent roles

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Welfare reform: Landlord restructures to create 17 permanent roles

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Published by 24publishing for 24dash.com in Housing and also in Central Government, Local Government, Universal Credit

 Welfare reform: Landlord restructures to create 17 permanent roles Welfare reform: Landlord restructures to create 17 permanent roles

A housing association has restructured its Neighbourhood Services Directorate to create 17 permanent roles to help residents cope with welfare reform changes.

Guinness South, a member of the 60,000-home Guinness Partnership, said it is "modernising the way we do business" to help its residents face the changes.

It comes as a new award - launched by payment collection specialist allpay and 24housing magazine - seeks to showcase the best ways housing providers and councils are communicating welfare reform changes to residents.

From April, social tenants with spare bedrooms face housing benefit cuts. It also marks the beginning of the £500-a-week limit on household benefits and reductions to council tax benefit.

Margaret Dodwell, Guinness South’s managing director, said: “The welfare reform changes are likely to impact a great number of our residents.  The changes to the benefits payments, the cap on benefits and the introduction of the under-occupancy penalty will mean many of our residents will have less money in their pockets.  We are modernising the way we do business to help our residents face these changes.

“Net income has always been critical to funding the services we provide, including the maintenance of our existing homes. Reduced levels of grant support from the Homes and Communities Agency means that surplus becomes more important to fund our build programme.”

Guinness said a new customer accounts team will focus on much of the "office-based income management duties", freeing up time for existing staff to work on a one-to-one basis with residents who need more intensive help to maintain their tenancies. 

Minimising the time taken to re-let properties is also a focus of the restructure, the landlord said. A new specialist team will focus on improving their voids, allocations and letting processes to avoid losing income because of empty properties.  "This team will also focus on letting tenancies that will be sustainable for our residents once welfare reform changes begin to take affect," it said.

Tony Swinden, director of neighbourhood services, said: “This restructure helps us to achieve a step change in our performance around rent collection, letting and re-letting of our properties.  It will also help us become more resilient prior to the welfare reform changes taking full effect and impacting our residents.  We intend to become more dynamic with the support services we can offer to our residents, through income recovery plans to help people clear rent arrears; as well as offering financial inclusion advice, such as budgeting, to help them sustain their tenancies through these difficult times."

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