Growing dependency on family and friends, Hyde research shows
Published by Brian Church for 24dash.com in Housing
1000s on long term sickness benefits found fit for work
Family and friends are the first source of support for many residents as welfare and benefit changes impact on their lives, according to new research commissioned by the Hyde Group.
As well as the traditional social networks providing financial support, a proactive and supportive housing provider was essential in the opinion of most of those surveyed. Many also asked for more involvement from other agencies, according to Hyde, which is landlord to 30,000 social housing tenants,
The research was conducted by a team which included specially trained Hyde Group tenants to get candid and honest answers.
"I’ve got a close knit group of friends who live nearby anyway and family, and they wouldn’t see me, you know, destitute," said a Hyde resident currently underoccupying. "So that’s why they know it’s important for me, because it would make my illness worse if I lost my house."
Hyde's press release notes that the survey comes one year on from the introduction of the "additional room supplement" and with the universal credit change imminent. Sarah Thurman, director of Hyde Plus, a specialist resident support service for the most vulnerable tenants, recognised the need to understand the issues from the residents’ point of view.
"We wanted to look behind the headlines. It’s easy to comment about the so-called bedroom tax, welfare reforms and other benefit changes but we wanted to know how real residents are responding. What is the real impact of these changes on their lives?"
The research shows families’ income has reduced significantly. This, coupled with dramatic increases in the cost of living, has left many struggling to find enough to live on. The prospect of getting into debt and ensuing anxieties creates further burdens.
Thurman said: "We knew that our residents would need robust support and specialist advice so we prepared for this. We’ve invested in more financial and employment advisory service officers; we’re providing residents with help understanding and accessing the right benefits. Additional resources have also been secured to allow us to respond to the very specific needs of individual residents."
Hyde plans to revisit everyone who took part in the research later this year to get a better understanding of the long-term effects of the changing benefits landscape.