We’ll work with you to improve your finances and your ability to pay your rent. And we can point you in the right direction of other organisations if you need extra support.
What can we help with?
We can help with lots of things, including:
- assessing what you spend and what you earn
- helping you to set a personal budget
- benefit assessments for Housing Benefit and Universal Credit
- applications for Discretionary Housing Payments
- assessing eligibility for disability and income replacement benefits
- applications for utility grants to pay off debt
- applications for alternative payment arrangements through Universal Credit
- helping you prioritise important debt, like rent and Council Tax
- improving your health and accessing local services including GPs and specialist support for drug and alcohol problems.
Other ways to find support
Please speak to us if you’re having any difficulties managing your tenancy. You can also speak to other support agencies, including:
- Shelter can help with legal advice relating to housing issues
- Women’s Aid can help if you’re dealing with domestic abuse or violence
- Alcoholics Anonymous provides advice and support if you feel your drinking is becoming a problem
- Narcotics Anonymous can offer advice and support if you have a problem with drugs
- If you’re feeling low, the Samaritans are there to listen
- Gamblers Anonymous offers advice and support if your gambling is an issue
- Turn2us is a national charity that helps people in financial trouble, with information on benefits, grants and support services.
How we've helped our customers
Renovating a home in London helped one customer out of isolation
On a recent home visit, our tenancy enforcement officer Maxine, found a customer living in really poor conditions, and with a hoarding problem. He suffered from anxiety, felt isolated and wasn’t getting any support.
Maxine let the customer support team know and we worked with local support schemes to offer him support.
We also refurbished his home and helped with furniture. He’s now got a home to be proud of, where he can invite his family and friends.
Helping a customer get their benefits
An 80-year-old customer was referred to our support team after her husband left their home.
Their benefit had been in her husband’s name, so these were cancelled. We completed new applications for Housing Benefit and Council Tax Support, and asked the benefits office to reassess her Pension Credit Claim and Attendance Allowance.
With our help, the customer was awarded £17,385 in benefits she was entitled to.
Helping customers threatened by domestic abuse
A new customer and her 16-year-old son were given an emergency home after suffering domestic abuse. The customer was very vulnerable, upset and suffering from anxiety and panic attacks.
Our support team helped the customer claim her entitled benefits, which together with grants, will help provide an extra £10,489 each year. We also used a local recycle scheme to furnish her home, and helped by buying a cooker and arranging food bank vouchers.
Supporting local families in Havant
A customer was referred to us after her Housing Benefit was stopped and her rent payments stopped.
The customer and her partner have learning difficulties and lived in a one-bedroom flat with their two-year-old daughter. In order to support the family we:
- Identified a support worker to help the family
- Helped the customer apply for Employment Support Allowance
- Appealed their Housing Benefit cancellation, securing £2,700 in backdated payments, which cleared their arrears.
The customer now has no rent arrears and her partner is on a training programme with Remploy, an agency that helps people with disabilities into the workplace.
Overcoming substance abuse
A customer with arrears of more than £5,000 and ongoing alcohol anti-social behaviour was given a second chance when our support team stepped into help.
The customer support team visited the customer and helped them get back on track by:
- referring them to their local social services
- arranging for their Housing Benefit to be reinstated and backdated, giving the customer an extra £4,548 to help pay the arrears
- secured a council tax reduction
- applied for Employment Support Allowance.
The customer’s now in a drug and alcohol rehabilitation programme, has no rent arrears and no anti-social behaviour issues.
Helping a customer develop their passion
One customer in Salford enrolled on an art degree to relieve his severe depression. Unfortunately he was then refused Housing Benefit because he was classed as a full-time student. This left him with £3,800 of rent arrears.
We worked with the customer to appeal the Housing Benefit decision on the grounds of his health, and secured backdated payments to clear his arrears.
The support from our staff meant we were able to secure £8,948 in benefits to help the customer stay in his home.
From shortfall arrears to community volunteering
A 53-year-old customer in West Gorton found himself in rent arrears, caused by a shortfall in his Housing Benefit. He was living in a two-bedroom flat, so he was affected by the under occupancy tax. He admitted he was a heavy drinker and the stress of the arrears was increasing this.
We helped the customer apply for a Discretionary Housing Payment, to reduce the arrears to less than £600. This improved his chance of being allocated a smaller property, which would help make his rent more manageable. The council also assisted by offering to clear the remaining arrears when he moved. We’re helping him look for a suitable place now.
We helped the customer set up a direct debit to manage his payments, which reduced his stress and, in turn, his drinking. We’ve setup payment plans to help him repay his council tax debt and we’re applying for Personal Independence Payments to increase his income.
Getting his life back on track, he’s now hoping to start volunteering in his local community.
How we've helped our customers during the pandemic
Helping a customer who lost their salary due to lockdown restrictions
Jennie, a single mother and hairdresser, had been struggling to make ends meet after her company had to close due to the national lockdown restrictions. With no savings to rely on, no family to turn to, Jennie couldn’t buy food or pay her utility bills.
She then contacted our Customer Support Team, who were able to help her claim Universal Credit and send her an emergency supermarket voucher so she could feed herself and her son. We were also able to send her an emergency gas and electric top up so she could heat her home during winter.
Supporting a customer during personal bereavement
David was receiving joint Employment Support Allowance and Housing Benefit, until his wife sadly passed away due to COVID-19. During this distressing time, David’s mental health took an understandable hit, so our Customer Support Team helped him move onto Universal Credit. Together with David, over the phone, we were able to notify his previous benefit entitlement programmes of his change in circumstances, as well as help him through the Universal Credit application.
Due to David’s limited capability to work, we were also able to help him complete an application for Personal Independence Payments, which would help alleviate any financial costs and support his income.
On a more personal level, we also were able to refer David for bereavement support and adult social care. We’re glad to hear that he now has a support worker and receives weekly bereavement counselling, all the while without having to worry about his finances.
Helping a married couple through a difficult time
Married couple, John and Louise, unfortunately both lost their jobs due to the national lockdown. In the lead up to Christmas, they couldn’t claim full Universal Credit due to the timing of them losing their jobs and applying for benefits (new benefit claims take up to 5 weeks to process) – this left them short of money for food or heating, as well as falling into rent arrears. To make things even worse, around the same time Louise was unfortunately diagnosed with breast cancer.
Throughout this terribly difficult time, we were able to help John and Louise by:
- Successfully applying for a Discretionary Housing Payment – clearing rent arrears
- Providing emergency food and electric through our Hardship Fund
- Successfully applying for Personal Independence Payments for Louise
We’re happy to say that John is now back in work and able to help alleviate some of their financial struggles.
Customer learns of benefits she didn’t know she was entitled to after shielding
During the initial stages of the pandemic, a Guinness customer had to shield for 2 months due to a long-standing physical illness. This meant a severe reduction in her salary, as she was only receiving Statutory Sick Pay, and as a single mother, she was unsure of how she was going to manage.
She had contacted us for support with foodbank vouchers, but once we spoke to her we realised she needed further support. We were able to help her with her Universal Credit claim, after it had been previously refused, where she now receives over £1,000 per month.
We also calculated that before the pandemic, she would’ve been able to claim £680 per month of Universal Credit due to her status as a single parent. This was something that she wasn’t aware of, she thought that being in full time work meant she wasn’t entitled to benefits and “just had to manage”. Going ahead, she can afford to pay for food and bills without fear of going into debt.