Universal Credit systems will be changed so that social landlords receive direct rent payments on the same day that tenants are paid the rest of their benefits from next month, the government has announced.
The change is expected to save housing associations and councils thousands of hours in administrative work.
The practice of refusing to rent homes to those in receipt of housing benefit has been ruled unlawful in the first ‘No DSS’ discrimination case to be heard by a UK court.
The case was led by the strategic litigation team at Shelter, which has campaigned on the issue of No DSS discrimination for several years.
In 2018, research by Shelter and the National Housing Federation found that at least one in 10 homes for rent advertised online said the home would not be rented to those on housing benefit.
A successful funding programme has been expanded to cover projects that will help communities recover from the coronavirus pandemic.
County Durham-based believe housing has already distributed more than £20,000 of funding to coronavirus related projects. But now the housing association is extending its community funding programme to support recovery from the pandemic.
The new ‘recovery grants’ will follow the same model as the existing community funding programme. Applications for grants of up to £500 are open to community groups, organisations or schools that work in areas covered by believe housing. A simple application process will be maintained to ensure that fast turnaround funding decisions can take place and get work underway.
Recovery grants are intended to support projects that can be delivered within two months and follow current government guidance on coronavirus, such as social distancing advice. Groups that have already received funding from believe housing’s Coronavirus Crisis Fund can apply for an additional recovery grant.
believe housing is keen to hear from community groups in most parts of County Durham, and some neighbouring areas, with projects to keep vulnerable people connected, and to provide help with food at a time when many people are seeing new financial difficulties due to the economic impact of the virus.
believe housing Funding Officer, Damian Pearson, said: “Although we all hope that the peak of the coronavirus pandemic is well behind us, we know that the need to support our communities has not reduced at all.
“These new recovery grants are intended to help community groups meet some of the huge demand that we’re already seeing for support in the rapidly changing world around us.”
Full details of recovery grants from believe housing’s Community Funding Programme are available on the believe housing website, or by calling the Community Investment Team on 0300 1311 999.
Advice on benefits during the coronavirus pandemic has left housing customers nearly £400,000 better off, despite everyone working from home.
Welfare benefits experts at believe housing have helped customers to access £391, 660 in unclaimed benefits during the coronavirus lockdown.
The County Durham-based housing association has seen a significant increase in the number of customers looking for help as the impact of the coronavirus pandemic is felt on their finances.
believe housing Tenancy Sustainment Manager, Jayne Adamson, said: “The difficult circumstances many people have found themselves in due to the pandemic means that our customers need advice and support more than ever. The fact that we’re all working remotely has thrown up some challenges, but I’m pleased to say that we’ve met them all.”
One customer is more than £35,000 better off after a full benefit check was carried out. It was discovered that the customer was entitled to a severe disability premium but had not made a claim. Their claim was made thanks to a conference call and the backdated benefits have now been paid.
Another received more than £10,000 in backdated severe disability premium payments added to their Employment Support Allowance. A video call allowed the Tenancy Sustainment Team to work with the customer and the Department for Work and Pensions to discuss the unclaimed benefit, which was paid in full within days.
“The customers we’ve helped are overjoyed. Most of them are now much more financially secure in these unprecedented times.” Jayne added. “I’d really urge anyone who has concerns about their benefit claims, or finances in general to get in touch and let us see if we can help.”
believe housing is supporting Homes at the Heart, a campaign and coalition calling on the government to put social homes at the heart of its plan for social and economic recovery from the coronavirus crisis.
The coronavirus crisis is further highlighting the need for secure, high quality, affordable homes and, for many people, support to live in them. Some of the worst affected by the crisis include low-paid key workers living in homes they can’t afford, rough sleepers, homeless families in temporary accommodation, older people in unsupported homes, and families stuck in overcrowded conditions.
Investing in social housing, in all its forms, will help the country recover from this crisis by boosting the economy, creating jobs and improving people’s lives when our nation needs it most. Without action, we are likely to see many people’s housing situations get much worse in the weeks, months and years ahead, as the economic impacts of the crisis are felt across the country.