Tenants unprepared for Universal Credit
Published by Anonymous for Riverside in Universal Credit and also in Communities, Housing
L-R Barclays’ Layla Sweeney-Gurbutt with Riverside’s Sophie Heneghan
Riverside working with New Direction and Barclays, has been preparing its tenants for welfare reform, specifically Universal Credit, to help them cope with the changes.
Since setting up the service, introduced in April 2014, Riverside has helped 66 tenants open bank accounts, set up payment plans and direct debits for 30 tenants and seen 65% of tenants approached engage with the service. We also helped tenants use online financial tools such as comparison sites and assisted with grant applications.
Sophie Heneghan, Riverside’s Community Engagement Officer, said: “When Universal Credit arrives, many of our tenants are going to face a change in the way they receive their housing benefit. We’re helping them to prepare through our partnership with Barclays, while giving financial support and guidance through the New Direction project. Tenants shouldn’t find themselves descending into debt, and it’s not just those on benefits who are struggling. Lots of working people are finding it hard to make ends meet, due to job hours being cut and escalating day to day expenses.”
Commenting on the New Direction service Riverside tenant, Mr Carrington, said: “I thought the service was great! It would have been hard for me to sort everything out by myself… they really helped me. It’s really important that Riverside offers this support, especially at times like this when people are struggling.”
Some social housing tenants are unable to access or use basic financial services, such as bank accounts or affordable loans. This can make it difficult to manage money, cope with financial pressures and save for the future. Planned changes to the welfare benefit system will see housing benefit paid directly to the claimant rather than direct to the landlord. Riverside are helping tenants prepare in a number of ways, including opening a Barclays bank account.
Taking the first steps to managing your money can be daunting. Changing circumstances can be challenging and has been particularly evident around welfare reform. People can struggle to open accounts with some high street banks due to past financial difficulties or problems with required ID.