13 August 2013

Council’s new money advice service brings tenants timely support

Free financial advice has helped more than 370 Brighton and Hove council tenants access more than £350,000 in unclaimed or additional benefits, charitable payments, savings on household bills and write-off or rescheduling of some debts.

The advice was provided by the council’s Housing Inclusion Team, which was created in October 2012 to offer financial help and advice to the significant number of tenants affected by government changes to the benefit system. The team has been working with the Money Advice and Community Support Service,(MACS), since the spring to coincide with the introduction of the government reforms.

Several tenants report how the team’s work has helped them cope with financial difficulties in the council’s annual report to tenants and leaseholder 2012/13. Given the sensitivity of their situation they are anonymous.

“Some of my bills were becoming unmanageable. I contacted Housing Inclusion. They worked together with MACS and I can now pay my bills with the money I am getting. They were very, very helpful.”

“I had been having problems with my water bill. Housing Inclusion and MACS did a tremendous amount of work to negotiate payments that I could afford. That’s been a great help.”

“I needed help with money in a number of areas. The help I had was great and I feel so much better for having sorted things out.”

Councillor Bill Randall, Chair of Housing, said, “The government’s changes to housing benefit are having a profound effect on many of our low-income tenants. It is essential that we collect rents that pay for housing services, but we always work with those tenants who can’t pay the rent to overcome their difficulties. The Housing Inclusion Team with MACS has answered a growing need for financial advice and guidance, and is bringing timely relief, support and help to so many of our tenants and residents.”

NOTES TO EDITORS

MACS has been successfully helping people to cope with debt since1995, providing an independent, confidential and impartial service with fully trained and experienced advisers. It offers face to face and telephone help with benefits, debt and budgeting and planning for the future.