Customers on housing benefit who switch to Universal Credit will be able to call on extra support from us, with three new recruits set to take the team up to ten housing officers.
Sarah Desforges-Poth (left) and Gareth Eakers (right) joined the team in January, and a third housing officer will start in March. Sarah and Gareth will be out visiting vulnerable customers to support them and make sure they are managing to pay their rent. Sarah will be covering Winchcombe and rural properties, while Gareth will be working in Priors Park.
Head of Housing, Ryan Barkle said: “We are expecting an increase in rent arrears in January and February as seasonal Christmas work dries up and customers’ circumstances change. These changes will prompt customers to have to sign up to Universal Credit.
“For the first time, all claimants must register their claim online and provide all the accompanying information online. They need a current bank account and must be able to produce a recognised form of identification like a driving licence, passport or utility bill. All these changes to the process of applying can be very off-putting, especially for people not used to being digital and going online.
The very real challenge facing customers, however, is that they will not receive a first Universal Credit payment for at least five weeks after first applying. For many people, that will mean zero income during this time.”
The recruitment of extra housing officers is part of Severn Vale’s preparation for the rollout of Universal Credit, which includes being awarded ‘Trusted Partner’ status by the Department of Work and Pensions and the appointment of a Universal Credit champion, housing officer Richard Partington.