Thursday 24th May 2012
Tenants in rent arrears will receive financial advice from their social landlord in a bid to stop them descending into further debt.
Riverside is piloting a money advice service for its tenants in the South East and Newcastle where telephone advisers will offer money or benefits advice.
Three advisers, based at Riverside's customer service centre in Merseyside, will initially target people who are in rent arrears and not in receipt of housing benefit.
By April, the team will also target tenants who have spare bedrooms and who are in danger of having their benefits cut if they do not move to a smaller property, in line with the Government's so-called bedroom tax.
Laura Bostock, Riverside's financial inclusion officer, said: "This is the first time we have proactively contacted tenants who we know are in danger of slipping into serious debt to offer them advice.
"We already have money advisers working within our divisions nationwide, but people do need to seek out their services.
"Our new advisers will reach people who may not be aware that they could potentially lose their home if they don't tackle rent arrears. There is help available, either through better money management, access to welfare benefits, or referral to other specialist services."
If successful, the scheme will be rolled out nationwide.
Laura said: "This is just one project aimed at reducing the negative impact of the welfare benefits changes introduced by this Government. If too many of our tenants fall into rent arrears, as a result of welfare benefit cuts or changes, the impact on social housing providers could be catastrophic, seriously impeding our ability to build new homes or invest in neighbourhood services."