Grwp Cynefin’s welfare team has secured its tenants an additional £1m of household income as well as the reassuring support of avoiding possible evictions over a 12-month period. Their Social Return on Investment report highlighted a return of £14 for every £1 spent on the service.
Grwp Cynefin’s biggest good news story from 2020
The welfare team uses Policy in Practice’s Better Off Calculator numerous times a day, it is a tool that is very important to our work. It enables us to offer accurate advice and guidance to the tenants we are working with.
The calculator can paint an accurate picture of the household’s expenditure. We use it to show tenant’s their expenditure and how we can change it in order for them to be in a better financial situation.
A number of our tenants are not getting all the extra income they should be. People in work are not claiming what they should as they are working. They’re missing out on a number of supports such as free school meals, Council Tax Reduction, to name a few.
All queries have been dealt with over the phone which has been very effective – people have managed with not being able to see someone face to face. This is not always ideal however we have been able to offer an excellent service by using the phone alone.
We found that people had to take some responsibility for their situation. We could not make a large number of applications for them as we were not able to conduct a home visit, however most of the service users have dealt with this well and have done as we advised. All they needed was to be given the information and guidance on how to do something and they have then been able to make the application for themselves. We have empowered our tenants to take control; before Covid-19 we may have done things for them as we may have doubted their ability to do so.
Covid-19 has impacted us all immensely. Some would say that people who were on benefits before have not been impacted but, by using the Better Off Calculator, it became very apparent to us that this was not the case.
We saw that children were home from school and people were working from home which meant that people had to spend more money on electric or gas and, of course, food. People were not able to travel from a very rural area to get to the bigger, cheaper supermarkets and they had to shop locally due to the travel restriction. One family in a small town was spending more than £100 extra per week on her food shop because of this, which has a very detrimental impact on the household income.
Rhianon Dafydd, Housing Manager, Grwp Cynefin
At the time Universal Credit was being introduced and we were concerned about our tenant’s ability to pay their rent. We needed to promote benefit entitlement amongst our customers.
From an internal point of view, we were training staff on welfare reforms, especially Universal Credit. We wanted to provide a consistent service across the department which had varying levels of experience and knowledge amongst different officers. We were looking for a tool that promoted benefit entitlement and helped with rent arrears performance.
Covid-19 brought a large volume of new referrals from people who were all in emergency situations. The people we were dealing with had never been in this situation before and had not claimed any financial assistance before.
Because of our changed ways of working internally we dealt with all queries over the phone, with no face to face appointments. We had to deal with the enquiries straight away and offer instant advice and guidance because people needed to get instant information on what support they were eligible for and what they should claim.
We used the Better Off Calculator to accurately provide the correct information to our tenants on what they needed to do next, such as claim Universal Credit or possibly the Council Tax Reduction Scheme.
We chose the Better Off Calculator as a result of staff feedback and because it was recommended by others. For Covid-19 it’s been extremely helpful as staff were already confident using it and appreciated it as a valuable tool and resource. Tenants being able to use it themselves and signposted to it has been a good resource to promote.
- More accurate information is now given to our tenants about how much extra income they should expect to get.
- Our officers continue to gain confidence in being able to convey the complex information they gather and convey to the tenant.
- We work to maximise our tenant’s income and make sure they are claiming what they should be.
- Being able to use the budgeting element of the tool to confidently discuss with tenants where they may potentially be able to start to change their expenditure is important. We aim to get a more accurate picture of the tenants’ real financial situation.
- The calculator is a good resource to promote as a support tool for tenants.
For other organisations, get buy in from staff to use it.
We would have liked to know about the vulnerability of all our tenants; we found very little financial resilience amongst working tenants who were previously not on our support radar. Because they paid their rent we were not aware of their financial vulnerabilities.
We all make a difference to our tenants’ lives. Policy in Practice’s Better Off Calculator has helped us to cope more effectively with Covid-19 challenges
The social return on investment assessment we made shows that if the monetary value that the added benefits received have on the local economy is included, the composite impact and added value created is £16.74 for every £1.00 invested in the service.
“Having the Better Off Calculator has made a real difference to our Housing and Welfare Officer’s efficiency. It enables us to offer accurate advice and guidance to the tenants who are facing financial challenges. It has been an extremely valuable resource as we’ve embraced the challenges associated with Covid and the unforeseen circumstances our tenants faced at such difficult times in their lives.”
Rhianon Dafydd, Housing Manager, Grwp Cynefin