Wheatley Group’s advice service helps tenants claim an extra £9.4M in benefits

Wheatley Group helped tenants access an extra £9.4million of unclaimed welfare benefits they were due.

GHA tenant Amanda Hay got help from the welfare benefit service

Scotland’s leading housing, care and property-management group provides a free benefit advice service to ensure all tenants are getting every penny they are entitled to.

Tenants of the Group’s six housing associations can also get support to appeal decisions taken by the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP).

In 2020, as the pandemic hit communities hard, Wheatley helped 20,255 tenants access over £9,391,000 in previously unclaimed financial support.

This included:

  • £2.62 million in additional Universal Credit payments;
  • £2.35 million in extra Personal Independence Payments; and
  • £1.5 million in Housing Benefit/Local Housing Allowance.

GHA tenant Amanda Hay, 30, from Nitshill in Glasgow, fell into arrears and turned to her housing officer for help. Amanda, pictured above, said: “My Housing Benefit got stopped. I have five kids and I was struggling.

“I got in touch with my housing officer and he really helped. He put me in touch with a GHA welfare benefits advisor and they dealt with the DWP for me.

“I got a backdated payment which helped me pay off my rent arrears. I’m much happier now. My housing officer also arranged emergency food parcels for me and the kids. That was a definite lifeline.

“GHA are really supportive. Any tenant who needs help should contact their housing officer.”

Alison Bain, from Royston in Glasgow, approached her GHA welfare benefits advisor for support.

Alison, 56, said: “I didn’t really know where to start as claiming benefits is very complicated.

“My welfare benefits advisor got in touch, looked at my circumstances and helped me fill in the forms. It was a great relief. I’d say to any tenant to use the service and find out what you are entitled to.”

It is estimated that around £16 billion was unclaimed in benefits by low-income households across the UK in 2020.

Dunedin Canmore tenant Ruth Rys from Edinburgh is a carer for her family.

Ruth, 52, said: “We’d previously applied for Personal Independence Payment, but we didn’t get it and it was a very stressful process.

“My housing officer put me in touch with our welfare benefit advisor. The support we got was amazing. He knew what steps we needed to take.

“We got money backdated and also help with other benefits. It saved our lives.”

Wheatley is calling for tenants to make sure they receive the benefits they are due – and to get in touch if they need support.

Olga Clayton, Wheatley Group director of housing and care, said: “The welfare benefits system can be complex for people to navigate. Tenants may presume they’re already getting all the financial support available or they’re not entitled to anything. Others may worry their claim will be rejected or they struggle to apply online.

“Welfare benefits are a vital safety net for many people on low-incomes. We are here to help tenants claim all of the benefits they are entitled to. The support and advice we can offer is life-changing.”

Wheatley Group offers a wide range of additional support services for tenants who need extra support, including fuel advisors, ‘EatWell’ food parcels and an emergency response fund to help tenants with essential household items.

Tenants who want to book an online or telephone appointment with a welfare benefit advisor should speak to their housing officer.

Wheatley’s six housing associations are: GHA, Cube, Loretto Housing in the west, Dunedin Canmore and West Lothian Housing partnership in the east and Dumfries and Galloway Housing Partnership in the south.

Thursday, February 18, 2021