Rent First message in lead up to Christmas
Published by Jamie Angus for Wolverhampton Homes in Housing and also in Bill Payments, Local Government, Universal Credit
Rent First is the message from Wolverhampton Homes
Thousands of council tenants have pledged to put their rent first in the lead up to Christmas as a campaign to reduce rent arrears in Wolverhampton was declared a huge success.
Wolverhampton Homes, the company which manages more than 23,000 homes on behalf of the council, launched its annual ‘Rent First’ campaign on 25th November – and has so far clawed back more than £217,000 worth of rent arrears.
Housing officers have been out and about across the city visiting tenants, offering debt advice and support and setting up payment plans for tenants who have fallen in to arrears in the lead up to Christmas.
With the rising cost of living and since the introduction of the government’s new welfare reforms, rent arrears amongst council house tenants have gone up across the country as tenants struggle to balance their finances and pay their bills. In figures released in October, rent arrears in Wolverhampton had increased by nearly £248,200 compared to the same time last year; figures which housing bosses say is linked to tenants in the city struggling since the introduction of the government’s new welfare reforms.
The result of the latest Rent First campaign has seen rent arrears fall by 16.4% (£217,857). Staff made over 6,500 house visits and 2,500 telephone calls in a bid to help tenants who are struggling and offer advice to as many tenants as possible.
Mark Henderson, Director of Housing at Wolverhampton Homes, cautiously welcomed the outcome of this year’s campaign:
“Tenants who fall into arrears risk losing their home so the best gift anyone can give at Christmas is to make sure they’ve got a roof over their family’s heads. Christmas is such a busy and expensive time and at a time when so many people are struggling, it’s more important than ever for tenants to prioritise paying their rent.
The pressures on local people are still by no means over – but being able to pay your rent first is the first step to being able to sort the other problems.
We see people day-in day-out who are struggling with bills and debts and our message to them is quite clear: ‘if you’re struggling to pay your rent, let us know and we can help’. The worst thing you can do is pretend it’s not happening and it’ll go away – because it won’t”.
Anyone who is struggling to pay their rent or is anticipating falling behind can contact Wolverhampton Homes for advice on 01902 556789 or visit www.wolverhamptonhomes.org.uk/money.