Circle Housing chief urges housing leaders to tackle welfare reform together
Published by Anonymous for Circle in Universal Credit and also in Communities, Housing
Circle Housing Chief Executive Mark Rogers has urged the housing industry, government and third sector agencies to pull together and support customers affected by welfare reform, in the light of new figures highlighting the challenges facing customers moving on to Universal Credit.
Speaking at this week’s Charted Institute of Housing conference in Brighton, Rogers revealed that three fifths (around 60%) of people believe being paid less frequently would make it more difficult to budget and make money last.
The poll was carried out as part of Circle Housing's ongoing work to help residents through the changes to welfare benefits.
Other key findings include:
- 50% claimed they would need to spend more time budgeting and keeping a track of finances online
- 40% felt that they would need support for landlords, mortgage lenders and energy suppliers in the event of a pay frequency change
- 79% said they would have to change how they managed their finances if they were paid the same, but less frequently.
He said: “We are almost one year on since the first changes to welfare benefit came into affect. As an industry, I believe we have made great strides and have a far better understanding our customers and their needs.
“At Circle Housing our priority has been helping residents to be more resilient through greater financial support and providing a range of employment and skills services to get people back into work and live independently. We have also been communicating the changes to those affected to help manage the impact.
“Clearly doing nothing is not an option. It is vital that the conversation doesn’t stop amongst housing providers. We need all agencies who deal with customers affected by welfare reform to look at the emerging patterns and continue to work together to find solutions.”
In the last year alone Circle Housing invested more than £1m in financial inclusion to help customers to manage their money. The provider was also last year awarded a Big Tick accreditation from charity Business in the Community for its employment and skills programme which helps more than 9,000 people into working and training opportunities annually.
Circle Housing is also working to save tenants money on their energy bills, and in doing so, helping put money back in their pockets. Last year the provider installed measures that helped our customers save around £450,000 on their energy bills.
Additionally Circle Housing’s mutual exchange service, House Exchange, can enable tenants affected by welfare reform to move to a property which is cheaper to run or which has fewer bedrooms.