Riverside helps tenants claim over £350,000
Published by CarolineP for Riverside in Care and Support
In the first year since Government changes to the benefits system, Riverside Carlisle’s Money Advice Service has increased the amount their tenants have been eligible to claim. 304 tenants have been assisted in claiming over £350,000 which is an increase of around £70,000 from the previous year.
It’s now just over a year since the introduction of the under-occupancy penalty, the so called ‘bedroom tax’, and in those first twelve months Riverside has gone out of its way to help those affected. Of more than £350,000 claimed £64,000 was from Discretionary Housing Payments (DHP), a fund set up by the government to help people adversely affected by the introduction of under-occupancy payments.
Mark Gilbertson, Riverside’s tenancy services support officer says the last year has been a challenging time. “Welfare reform has had an impact on many of our tenants who previously got full housing benefits and as a result owed us rent for the first time. Those particularly affected included people with mental health issues, poor literacy and disabilities. These people were already finding it hard to maintain tenancies and the under occupancy charge presented them with fresh challenges.
“Riverside ran a large scale campaign targeting every household we thought would be affected. Each person got explanatory letters, phone calls and in many cases a visit from myself or one of my colleagues. We’ve worked with a host of partners including churches, Barnardo’s, Cumbria Gateway, Carlisle & District Credit Union, Carlisle City Council, and both Adult & Children’s Services at Cumbria County Council.
“We’ve not only helped hundreds of tenants cope with the introduction of the under-occupancy penalty, we’re delighted to have exceeded expectations and increased the sums people have been eligible to claim overall. For many, this extra financial help means the difference between maintaining and losing a tenancy.”
Riverside’s Assisted Living Team Leader Vikki Pattinson added “Riverside is committed to helping people sustain their tenancies. Through successful partnerships and our own money advisors and floating support we’ve been able to achieve these excellent outcomes.”
Riverside is already working on ways to help tenants with the introduction of Universal Credit. Mark Gilbertson concluded “We Cumbrians are a resourceful tribe and through team work we can, and will, rise to the challenge.”