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Additional £1m secured for tenants thanks to housing association’s welfare team

Meleri Williams, Welfare Officer, Grwp Cynefin

A housing association’s welfare team has secured its tenants an additional £1m of household income as well as the reassuring support of avoiding possible evictions over a 12-month period.

Grŵp Cynefin’s report also highlighted that for every £1 it spent on the service, there was a social return on investment (SROI) of £14.10, with tenants accessing vital benefit support including universal credit, housing benefits and council tax reductions.

The SROI figure includes £985,301 financial gains for 278 tenants in addition to a social and emotional support value to tenants. These included relief from stress and anxiety, feeling financially comfortable, independence and regaining control of their lives, more confidence, and debt relief.

The pound amounts attributed to each category were taken from similar studies in the UK and from recognised sources such as the Housing Association Charitable Trust.

The SROI also included associated fees linked with evictions. Figures from housing charity Shelter state that to the landlord the average cost of eviction amounts to £8,200 per property on top of the stress, strain and hassle involved for everyone.

By working closely with tenants with rent arrears, Grŵp Cynefin’s welfare team helped them get back on track with payments and reduce any negative feelings such as anxiety.

Olwen Jones, a tenant who has lived in a Grŵp Cynefin property in Denbigh for 23 years, said: “I was taking a lot of time off work due to ill health, which was causing me to fall into rent arrears. As a result, Grŵp Cynefin put me in touch with their welfare officers and they were really helpful straight away.

“They supported me with my Personal Independence Payment (PIP) application and put me in touch with the water board to discuss my payments. As Grŵp Cynefin has built relationships with these organisations, it made it easier to talk to them and they seemed more understanding of my situation. The officers can also talk on your behalf if you wish.

“I am now retired, my arrears have started to come down and I worry less about money. My advice is to just talk to the team. I’ve discovered services I wouldn’t have known about if I hadn’t contacted them and in a matter of days, they were able to put something in place to help me.”

Anthony Poglettke has lived in a Grŵp Cynefin property in Leeswood for nine years. He said: “I first received help a few years ago after a bleed on the brain put me out of work for a while.

“They helped with me with my living costs, applying for benefits and filling out forms online. They also assisted me to cancel direct debits I could no longer afford which helped to take the pressure off.

“The whole team are fantastic and keep in touch with me on a weekly basis, even via text and email. My advice is to reach out and they’ll get back to you, doing whatever they can to help.

“It can be a difficult and scary thing to do, admitting you need help, but they listen to you and understand. I don’t know what I’d have done without them.”

The report also showed that 91 per cent of those questioned had benefitted and were satisfied with the service, with 93 per cent of cases being resolved.

Grŵp Cynefin’s welfare officers assist tenants to access foodbank services, hardship funds, housing benefits, welfare rights, tax credit, council tax reductions, pension credit, disability living allowance, universal credit, blue badge and care and repair services. It also signposts to various charities offering financial support for issues such as redundancy.

Meleri Williams, welfare officer at Grŵp Cynefin, said: “As welfare officers, we provide more than just a landlord service to our tenants; we are dedicated to helping them.

“I feel extremely proud in my role being able to go above and beyond to help those in times of difficulty and keeping in touch with them afterwards. It’s one of the things that makes us stand out as a housing association.

“I urge anyone who is struggling or thinks they may require assistance in the future to get in touch with us and see how we can help and support you.”

To contact Grŵp Cynefin or for further information and support, please call 0300 111 2122 and request the welfare officers’ team.