Welfare changes: tenants get explanatory video
Published by Max Salsbury for 24dash.com in Universal Credit and also in Communities, Housing
Barnet benefit changes
Hundreds of council home tenants can learn more about the Government's forthcoming welfare changes thanks to a new online film.
Barnet Homes - which manages 15,000 properties on behalf of Barnet Council - has produced the film to explain the under-occupancy rules that will reduce housing benefit payments for hundreds of the borough's residents from April 1.
The film - 'Benefit changes: What you need to know' - sets out how the imminent bedroom tax will affect people and what options are available to them to cover any shortfall in their rent, such as advice on exchanging homes.
Barnet Homes staff feature in interviews during the film, along with resident Karen Hepper, who moved into a smaller home through the social landlord’s Fresh Start downsizing scheme.
The online resource also covers the benefit cap, which is expected to be introduced in Barnet later this year, and the advent of Universal Credit which will require all welfare recipients to open a bank account.
Research by Barnet Homes indicates that around one in ten council tenants in the borough do not currently have a bank account.
The ALMO has carried 750 personal visits to residents thought to be under-occupying their homes with one or two spare bedrooms under the strict new government criteria.
Staff are hoping to visit every potentially affected resident – about 1,000 in total - by the end of February.
Barnet Homes' chief executive, Tracey Lees, said: “We want to ensure that all of our residents know about and understand the effect that the government’s benefits changes will have on their lives.
“We pride ourselves on supporting residents to retain their tenancies and want to do everything possible to ensure that people do not start to default on their rent payments as a result of welfare reform.
“Of course the easiest way to avoid the impact is to find work, and we’re proud of our programme of training and apprenticeships to give residents the best chance of getting into long-term employment. But we’d encourage tenants to look at other options too, such as swapping homes and downsizing or possibly taking in a lodger.”