Hi John

Firstly, your approach of trying to help tenants by reassuring them their homes are under no threat and trying to source helpful information is admirable and exactly what I’d expect most responsible landlords to do in this chaotic and worrying time.

Good tenants don’t become bad tenants overnight, especially where the cause of their delay or failure to pay is a genuine lack of funds and concern it might might take months before we get back to some sense of normaility. Yesterday’s economic measures announcement, whilst very welcome, will, I suspect, take some time to fully implement, meantime, people need to find some sources of advice and financial help.

I don’t expect landlords to fulfil that role or try to be benefit experts, that’s not your role. The good news is, in each area, 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 – try your local council and ask about Local Housing Allowance
  6. Council Tax Reduction – again, your local council.

In addition, to Citizens Advice, you’ll find there are many Welfare Rights, Money Advice, Debt Advice, Financial Inclusion services provided by Housing Associations, Voluntary organisations, Church groups etc. Services are usually of a very high quality and free to users. If you’re looking for not only 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.

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.

Look out for updates as well from the NRLA (RLA) website www.rla.org.uk as it has very strong links with DWP, including Ministers.

If Vanessa can keep this thread open, by avoiding any “high-jacking” and simply focus on being positive and helpful, I’ll try and respond to general questions, point you to the best sources of advice and support and keep you updated.

Bill Irvine

UC Advice & Advocacy Ltd