Benefit change help at hand

Homes off Macbeth Road in Fleetwood
Homes off Macbeth Road in Fleetwood

A HOUSING provider in Fleetwood and Wyre says it is actively assisting residents who will be affected by sweeping changes to the benefits system.

Regenda says is has identified which of its tenants could struggle as a result of the Government’s Welfare Reform Act.

And over the next few weeks it will implement a raft of measures aimed at supporting its residents.

A comprehensive ‘door knock’ campaign has been launched across the North West, starting in Wyre.

The Wyre visits, including those in Fleetwood, Cleveleys and Thornton, are expected to last for the next few weeks, with follow-ups for anybody who still needs help. During the personal visits, Regenda staff will be able to offer information, support and advice to people they have targeted as being potentially affected.

The act, which is being introduced in stages from April onwards, will bring in a range of changes that could adversely affect some people who live in social housing. Two of the main concerns are the Under Occupancy Charge – known as Bedroom Tax – and the Benefits Cap.

Wyre Council, which no longer runs social housing but does have an input in housing allocation, recently cleared up some concerns about the issue and insisted no one would lose their homes as a result of changes.

But Regenda acknowledges that residents are still worried.

Steve Blackburn, Regenda’s head of customer and housing services, said: “We know that the Welfare Reform Act is going to affect a lot of our residents, and believe that forewarned is forearmed.

“We have already taken steps to identify the people we think could find themselves in potential difficulties, and have planned a range of ways to reach out and help them.

“We would encourage all residents contacted by letter to try and make the time to have a chat with the team member who visits them – we are here to help.”

Residents of around 1,700 Regenda homes in the North West could be affected by the Bedroom Tax alone, with a potential loss of more than £1,000,000 in Housing Benefit.

More than 460 of those are in Wyre, Fylde and Blackpool.

The ongoing campaign of support will include face-to-face visits, new leaflets offering simple advice on issues such as the Bedroom Tax and Non-Dependant Charge, and the recruitment of more money advice workers.

Concerned Regenda residents should call Customer Services on 0344 736 0066.