Starts at Home Day: money advice service secures £1m in additional income for residents for the third year in a rowDate: 31/08/2023
Today is ‘Starts at Home Day’ a day that celebrates the positive impact of supportive housing on communities across the country.
As well as providing affordable homes people can be proud of, we pride ourselves on supporting residents to make sure their housing journey fits for the long term.
Our Money Advice Service is one of the ways we do that. It’s a free confidential service that helps residents with money worries, managing budgets and debts and securing additional benefits.
Post-pandemic the service has seen an increase in demand. In 2022-23 the service secured £1.14m in additional income for our residents and is the third year in a row that the team has surpassed the £1m mark.
To celebrate the amazing work the team does, we spoke to Money Advisor Mick who says rising costs and inflation are to blame.
“In the last year, we’ve all been hit by rising costs, whether that’s been on food, energy bills or transport costs. Prices are rising because inflation is, which is then passed on through your everyday household bills,” said Mick.
“If you’ve been hit hard by this you are not alone.
“Close to half of all adults in England said they were buying less when shopping for food, with price rises being the main reason. 96% of those people also said rising food prices was the main reason why their costs had gone up.
“If you are struggling, I want you to know that we’re here for you. Our team of non-judgemental experts can work with you to find a solution and help resolve any money worries you may have.”
“We’d been helping Mr and Mrs Smith for many years, as they both have learning difficulties”, explained Mick.
“The couple were living comfortably until Mr Smith sadly passed away. It left Mrs Smith worried about money.
“Not being able to read or write she didn’t know where to begin, so she got in touch with us.
“We discovered that her husband had a state pension and two private pensions and alongside this they were both claiming other benefits to support them too.
“We completed a new benefit assessment and recommended she apply for Universal Credit, and we helped her to make the claim.
“Then alongside that we helped her to claim her share of her late husband’s pensions and secured a bereavement support payment too.
“Our support meant Mrs Smith no longer needed to worry about her finances, amongst the stress of losing her husband.
“We’re regularly in touch with her now and are here if she ever needs our help or support again.”
“We recently supported a tenant with severe autism whose ESA suddenly stopped”, explained Mick.
“We arranged an appointment and when he came in, he realised that he had reached state pension age, which was why his ESA was stopped as he was no longer eligible.
“He didn’t know that he needed to claim for a state pension, so we immediately made an online claim and also completed a benefit assessment where we discovered he could be entitled to pension credits too.
“We contacted the local council and explained his situation and they processed his claims and were able to backdate any missed payments too.
“We also arranged for his state pension to be paid fortnightly like his previous payments, as routine was important for him because of his autism.
“We were able to resolve Jason’s money worries and let him know that we’re here for him in the future if he needs us.”
“We received a referral from one of our over 55’s independent living villages from an 80-year-old couple who were struggling to cope financially.
“We arranged an appointment to see how we could help.
“They told us that they were struggling to pay rent and were very upset and worried about having to move at their age. They also mentioned that the stress of the money worries was having an impact on their health and wellbeing.
“I got to work, and I completed a benefit check. From there I completed an application for attendance allowance, housing benefit, council tax support, and pension credit.
“They were all awarded, and because of our help the couple were nearly £400 a week better off.
“It meant they were able to stay living in the home they love and could relax knowing we’d solved their money worries.
“Since our support, they both seem to be happier and have started socialising with their neighbours.”
*Names have been changed to protect identities