Bedroom tax preparations pay off for social landlord as arrears drop
Published by Max Salsbury for 24dash.com in Housing and also in Finance
Camden Council 'to deliver £3 million savings' through improved benefits service
A social landlord has hailed its preparations for the government's welfare reforms as the driver for a "significant reduction" in rent arrears.
Around 2,500 of Orbit's households have been hit by the bedroom tax, and 167 have seen their benefits reduced as a consequence of exceeding the overall weekly cap.
Orbit’s says it work on addressing the changes to the benefit system reduced arrears by around £210,000, while 275 'under-occupiers' have been successfully down-sized.
The 38,000-home provider has produced a number of communication tools which have been used across the sector, including information leaflets, staff training materials, a pre-tenancy sustainability checker and a tenant reward scheme.
Its money advice and tenancy support service has provided additional support for customers facing difficulty - resulting in a gain of around £2.5 million in additional income for customers in the last year - whilst also successfully reducing evictions.
Lee Steele, head of income services at Orbit Living, said: “I am delighted with our results, which are a real credit to our team’s hard work and adaptability.
"We have worked tirelessly on welfare reform for several years now and are really reaping the rewards for that work. Our strong commitment to customer education, advice and support has effectively enabled our residents to understand their options and plan for changes which affect them.
“We are committed to treating our customers as adults, providing them with information so that they can make their own informed choices in difficult economic times. We fully support a culture of personal responsibility, enabling us to focus our attentions on our more vulnerable customers and provide support where it is needed.”
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