Inside Housing – Commentary – Rent arrears have nothing to do with tenants’ wasteful spending
We want our customers to talk to us when they are in financial difficulty and let us help them. Customers should be sure that when they ask for help, we will respond with empathy. It is essential that housing associations do more to ensure that those most in need of help feel able to contact them as soon as possible.
It is also important to provide easy access to information and support. So, while acknowledging that some customers won’t have internet access (or the skills to do so), providing digital tools to allow people to self-manage their rental account, as well as resources online, is essential.
We know applying to UC can be complex and overwhelming. That’s why we developed UC Helper, a free online tool to help people with their first UC request. The mobile-friendly UC assistant guides users through every step of an application, from creating a UC online account to submitting a claim, and what to expect in an interview.
Building Financial Resilience
Online resources and budgeting tools like our UC Helper help clients gain confidence in understanding how to manage their finances and navigate the benefits system.
But financial resilience isn’t just about solving immediate money problems, it’s about supporting people and building strong, safe and secure communities in which they live.
“Buy now, pay later programs for certain goods, while very attractive, lock people into high-interest debt for many years”
We are also thinking about strengthening our job and training offer, so that our customers are directly informed by us of any new opportunity in their field, in salaried activity with our suppliers.
Credit Union Advocate
Short-term, high-interest payday loans are readily available to most. These lenders often use aggressive marketing tactics and take a very hard line when it comes to recovering the loan. It is important that we advocate for alternative lending options, such as credit unions, that are more affordable, lower interest and longer term.
We also need to raise awareness of the dangers of these short-term, high-interest loans, which include illegal loan sharks who target low-income families. Similarly, “buy now, pay later” programs for certain goods, while very attractive, lock people into high-interest debt for many years.
“Stigmatizing and isolating families in social housing will only add more stress and anxiety and tip the balance against them. People shouldn’t be ashamed of their financial situation.”
Rent arrears among social tenants are a growing problem and the stigma is undeserved. The cost of living crisis is of course exacerbating the problem nationwide and financially vulnerable families are going to be the hardest hit.
However, stigmatizing and isolating social housing families will only add more stress and anxiety and tip the balance against them. People shouldn’t be ashamed of their financial situation and shouldn’t feel embarrassed to ask for help. Housing associations have a huge role to play, whether it’s partnering with credit unions, maximizing reach, or investing in services and resources that can help their customers.
If we can end the stigma, understand the root cause of these issues, and advocate for the right path forward, we can really make a difference.
Kerry Starling, Director of Communities and Social Impact, Hyde