Finding solutions to problems with debt
Midland Heart’s free money advice service helped 1,144 of its tenants save almost £1.2million in debt savings in 2018 as part of its drive to support people struggling with debt.
Created and managed by the leading housing association, the award-winning team works with over 80 new tenants a month, looking into their specific circumstances and offering expert advice to help them get back on their feet.
Gary Hardy, Director of Housing, said: “We speak to people every day who are experiencing serious money worries and who feel overwhelmed by what to do next. In 2018, the team received over 1,800 referrals and this number continues to increase as we support tenants to deal with the impact of welfare reforms.
“January and February are the time people often find themselves in debt, or at risk of being in debt, from over-spending during the festive period. Credit card bills, along with bills for utilities such as gas and electricity, land early in the new year and this is often a financial wake-up call.
“We would urge our tenants to get in touch with our money advice team as early as possible rather than risk losing their tenancy - and home - through rent arrears."
Midland Heart’s money advice service provides vital support to tenants with difficulties ranging from debt or insolvency and unpaid bills, to welfare benefits and everyday budgeting.
The service includes providing the support, tools and advice individuals need to sustain their tenancies. This may include carrying out a benefit check to ensure they are receiving all they are entitled to, sourcing hardship payments for those most in need or looking to see if the tenant may be eligible for funding from a charity or trust fund.
The free, independent advice service was set up to help support the most excluded tenants such as those without bank accounts. The service was later expanded to support those affected by welfare reforms such as the bedroom tax, benefit cap and introduction of universal credit, and is now one of the largest money and debt advice teams in the Midlands.
In 2017, the team were recognised for their outstanding work by scooping the title Best Tenant Support Advice Programme at the Housing Excellence Awards.