Good afternoon

In recent days an increasing number of my SRS client base have asked if I could point them in the direction of any help there may be on Government websites or elsewhere, that could help tenants, that are already or most likely to be affected by the Coronavirus, either through self-isolation, being temporarily paid off or have their household income severely cut to a level they can no longer pay all their household bills.

AS you know, good tenants don’t become bad tenants overnight, especially where the cause of their delay or failure to pay rent  is a genuine lack of funds and concern it might take months before we get back to some sense of normality. Yesterday’s economic measures announcement, whilst very welcome, will, I suspect, take some time to fully implement, and trickle down to beneficiaries, meantime, people need to find some sources of advice and financial help. I also expect the Government to make an announcement shortly on what help is being extended to tenants.

Meantime, the good news is, in most areas, you’ll find there are various central and local governmental bodies that can provide help with:

  1. Coronavirus General site
  2. Statutory Sick Pay – Employer’s advice
  3. “New Style” Job Seekers Allowance
  4. Universal Credit, including assistance with rent and advance payments
  5. Housing Benefit (local council) where HB is already in payment and there’s a drop in income
  6. Council Tax Reduction – again, your local council.

In addition, to Govenment bodies and Citizens Advice, you’ll find there are many excellent Welfare Rights, Money Advice, Debt Advice, Financial Inclusion services, provided by Councils, Housing Associations, Voluntary organisations, Church groups etc. The services are usually of a very high standard and free to users in the majority of cases.

If your tenant needs more than simple advice but help with form filling, querying and pursuing things with DWP or Councils, try calling your local CAB and they’ll point you in the right direction. Otherwise, simply Google “benefits advice” and post code and that should route you to a good source of advice.

The House of Commons library has produced this briefing on Coronavirus and Claiming benefits. It alludes to some of the new measures and relaxations introduced by DWP that should make claiming less bureaucratic. I expect there will be a range of future easements and I will update you on these as and when they arise.

If you already have benefit advisors in-house they’ll keep you right. For those that don’t, I’ll happily respond to any general questions you may have, point you to the best sources of advice and support in your area and keep you updated.

Bill Irvine

UC Advice & Advocacy Ltd