Today (6 December) marks the start of Universal Credit going ‘live’ in Tewkesbury and Gloucestershire, and a new role for housing officer Richard Partington as Severn Vale Housing’s specialist on Universal Credit.
Richard’s job will be to support tenants who are experiencing difficulties claiming Universal Credit, by offering detailed advice and explaining the new payment system. Alongside his colleagues in the housing team, Richard is also able to refer customers to other organisations for extra support, such as GreenSquare and the Trussell Trust.
Richard’s appointment is part of Severn Vale’s preparation for the rollout of Universal Credit, which includes boosting the number of housing officers and being awarded ‘Trusted Partner’ status by the Department of Work and Pensions.
Richard said: “In some parts of the country people are experiencing delays of up to ten weeks before receiving their benefits. We are here to help and support our tenants to make sure they keep a roof over their heads while Universal Credit is introduced. I’m here as a specialist source of advice to support people through what might be a very hard time.
“It is vitally important that tenants contact us as soon as possible if they are having difficulty in paying their rent. Our Housing Officers are here to help and can offer immediate advice. We are urging all of our tenants to get help from us now if they are struggling with the new system”.
Anyone currently receiving housing benefit will be triggered into making a new claim for Universal Credit if they have a change in their circumstances. For the first time, all claimants will need to register their claim online and provide all the accompanying information online. They will also need a current bank account and be able to produce a recognised form of identification like a driving licence, passport or utility bill.