With the Government welfare reform programme well underway and impacting the way housing benefit is awarded, we want to be sure new residents feel supported in the early weeks of their new tenancy. In particular, we want to be sure it is clear how much to pay, when to pay and ways to pay to avoid getting into arrears.
We started trials earlier this year, offering additional support to new residents in Ashford and the West region, which involved:
Gathering additional information at the interview stage to help identify any support needs.
Offering support, including advice on budgeting and employment &training.
Bringing the settling in visit forward for a number of residents to help prevent issues arising early.
Agreeing payment methods and future payment amounts at sign up and sending text messages to customers to remind them when a payment was due.
We spoke to a number of residents who received additional support to find out if they found it useful. They said:
The additional questions asked about a resident’s circumstances were viewed as appropriate.
The information provided was generally clear and helpful.
The advice and support provided helped several residents budget their money more effectively and several applied for housing benefit as a result.
The advice around budgeting, housing benefit claims, employment & training and volunteering opportunities was particularly useful.
This feedback will inform a wider review in the New Year of the services and support we provide to our residents going forward.