Ocean has invested in additional staff to support residents struggling with debt and changes to welfare benefits.
Prevention is more effective than cure, and our services are increasingly geared towards proactive engagement and early intervention. With limited support, particularly face-to-face, available locally, we are confident that this proactive approach adds significant value, preventing evictions and reducing debt related stress amongst our residents.
Since January 2013 we have visited over 550 households affected by changes to Housing Benefit, supporting them in a range of ways; from completing financial health checks, to providing benefit advice and signposting wider support. We have actively supported residents needing to move which, along with alleviating the financial stress of households, is also maximising the use of our housing stock.
With the arrival of Universal Credit, the main concern is that tenants will not be prepared for the financial and lifestyle changes, resulting in them slipping into debt and rent arrears.
Throughout 2014-15, Ocean took our Universal Credit and job seekers support services out into the community by launching weekly drop-in ‘Hubs’ in St. Blazey and St. Dennis. We also identified nearly 400 households that may require additional support, preparing for the switch over to Universal Credit, and visited them in person to impress on them the importance of thinking ahead.
Fighting Fuel Poverty
We continue to support residents who are dealing with fuel poverty, by offering guidance on the effective use of their heating system and comparison of energy provider tariffs. In the year we visited over 60 households that had been signposted as requiring support by our Welfare Advice Team, or who responded to our promotion of the service.
We provide a wide range of additional services to our residents. For more information please visit the Housing website.