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Residents more than £500,000 better off with help from Contour Homes

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Residents more than £500,000 better off with help from Contour Homes

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Published by RichardBramwell for Symphony Housing Group in Housing and also in Communities

Contour Homes tenant Marilyn Fedor, from Preston, is just one of the customers who has been helped by Contour Homes Contour Homes tenant Marilyn Fedor, from Preston, is just one of the customers who has been helped by Contour Homes

Residents struggling to cope with changes to the benefits system and rising energy bills are more than £500,000 better off because of help from one of the North West’s biggest housing associations.

Contour Homes has been working with families to secure them cheaper gas and electricity, access benefits they are entitled to but haven’t been claiming, and a range of other support.

In less than a year, in communities across Greater Manchester and Lancashire, Contour’s Revenue Services team has:

  • Helped tenants access £377,799 in benefits they were eligible for but had not been receiving
  • Helped 79 households hit by the Government’s under-occupation penalty, also known as the bedroom tax, to secure £48,886 in Discretionary Housing Payments (DHPs)
  • Helped residents save more than £14,800 by switching to more affordable gas and electricity tariffs
  • Visited more than 1,180 customers to offer advice and information about benefits changes
  • Provided six tenants with free representation at benefits appeals tribunals

Customer Marilyn Fedor, aged 61, is £6,900 better off after financial inclusion officer Vikki Starling offered her a range of benefits and money advice.

Part-time cleaner Marilyn lost around £60 a week when her hours at work were reduced. She was also hit by the ‘bedroom tax’ because she has one spare room in the Contour Homes flat she has lived in since 1999.

Marilyn, from Avenham, Preston, said: “Vikki has been a godsend. Thank goodness there are people like her around. I’m so grateful for all the help and I don’t know how I would have coped without it.”

Vikki supported Marilyn to successfully apply to the council for a DHP, as well as secure funding towards her electricity debts; helped her to apply for a Warm Home Grant; and resolved problems with her housing benefit payments.

Ann Walton, revenue services manager at Contour Homes, said providing support to tenants was crucial at a time when many are under more financial pressure than ever before.

She added: “Our customers, including those who are struggling to make ends meet in low-paid jobs, are being squeezed by the Government’s benefit changes and rising gas and electricity prices.

“Other issues like zero-hours contracts and the cost of food mean that some people are so short of money they are choosing between things like heating their homes and feeding their families.

“We want to do everything we can to support our customers if they are struggling with money. Some tenants may still not realise that we can provide this kind of support, but cases like Marilyn’s go to show what a difference it can make.

“We’d urge any of our customers who need help or advice to contact us.”

Customers can also find out more about The Moneytree Conference, a special event taking place in Bury on May 22. It will give tenants from Greater Manchester, Lancashire and Cheshire the chance to access a range of support to tackle financial problems and help them make their money go further.

Contour Homes tenants can email RevenueServices@contourhomes.co.uk, find out more at www.contourhomes.co.uk, or call the team on 0345 602 1120.

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