Grwp Cynefin secures an extra £1 million
Benefit and Budgeting Calculator
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.
When Grwp Cynefin first joined Policy in Practice, Universal Credit was being introduced and the housing provider was concerned about tenants’ ability to pay their rent. They needed to promote benefit entitlement amongst their customers.
Internally, they were training staff on welfare reforms, especially Universal Credit. They wanted to provide a consistent service across the department which had varying levels of experience and knowledge amongst different officers. The Benefits and Budgeting Calculator from Policy in Practice promoted benefit entitlement and helped with rent arrears performance.
In 2020, Covid-19 brought a large volume of new referrals from people who were in emergency situations. Some of the people they were dealing with had never been in this situation before and had never claimed any financial assistance. For example, a number of tenants were not getting extra income they were entitled to. People in work were not claiming what they should as they were working. They were missing out on a number of supports such as free school meals and Council Tax Reduction.
Meanwhile, people who were on benefits before were further impacted. By using the Benefit and Budgeting Calculator, the extent became very apparent. Children were home from school and households had to spend more money on electric or gas and, of course, food. People couldn’t travel from rural areas to the bigger, cheaper supermarkets due to the travel restriction, so they had to shop locally. One family in a small town was spending more than £100 extra per week on their food shop because of this, which had a very detrimental impact on the household budget.
With Grwp Cynefin’s changed ways of working internally due to Covid-19, all queries were being dealt with by phone, with no face to face appointments. They had to deal with the enquiries straight away and offer instant advice and guidance. People needed to get fast and accurate information on what support they were eligible for and what they should claim.
Initially, Grwp Cynefin used the Benefit and Budgeting Calculator to accurately provide the correct information to its tenants on what they needed to do next, such as claim Universal Credit or possibly the Council Tax Reduction Scheme.
When the Covid-19 pandemic struck, it was extremely helpful as staff were already confidently using it and appreciated it as a valuable tool and resource. All queries were dealt with over the phone and people managed with not being able to see someone face to face. This wasn’t always ideal however the welfare team still offered an excellent service by phone alone.
The team used Policy in Practice’s Benefit and Budgeting Calculator to paint an accurate picture of the household’s expenditure. They showed tenants their expenditure and how they could change it to be in a better financial situation and also signposted them to use the calculator resource themselves.
Grwp Cynefin was keen to allow their customers to take a degree of ownership of their situation. They could not make a large number of applications for them as they were not able to conduct a home visit. However, most of the service users dealt with this well and acted on the advice received. Given the information and guidance, they have then been able to make the application for themselves.
The social return on investment assessment made by Grwp Cynefin 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.
- More accurate information is now given to tenants about how much extra income they should expect to get
- Officers continue to gain confidence in being able to convey the complex information they gather and convey to the tenant
- Grwp Cynefin works to maximise tenant’s income and make sure they are claiming what they should be
- Using the budgeting element of the calculator, officers can confidently discuss with tenants where they may potentially be able to start to change their expenditure and get a more accurate picture of their real financial situation
- The calculator is a good resource to promote as a support tool for tenants
Having the Benefit and Budgeting 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