We will prioritise enabling residents to keep their homes and promote mobility
As well as providing housing-related services, we also offer additional support to residents such as our welfare advice, digital training, youth initiatives, employment support and additional estate improvements.
We monitor all of the these services on an annual basis to see how successful they have been for residents and what impact they have had and then look at where we might want to invest additional resources to.
Our Welfare and Benefits service works to maximise income for residents, and give support to help with debt and budgeting.
This year, the team helped 109 residents increase their income through benefit applications, debt management and other financial advice. All together, this work increased resident income by more than £251,000. This has been achieved by managing cases closely and reminding all residents to report a change in their financial circumstances. Advice and support is also given via Whatsapp which has helped to speed up communication with residents.
As well as benefitting residents, this work also helps to reduce rent arrears. This is important as it means we have the resources through rental income to deliver good quality services.
At the end of the financial year, arrears stood at 2.03%, against an ambitious target of 2%. Eviction is always the last course of action and we aim to work with residents as early as possible to find solutions that work for both parties. Through a successful working partnership with Croydon Council, we have been able to assist residents who have experienced financial difficulty and hardship. As a result, there was just one eviction during the year due to rent arrears and subletting.
More financial support for Angela and her son
More financial support for Angela and her son
Angela* was receiving disability benefit but her condition got worse and the award did not reflect her true care needs. She also received only the basic Universal Credit award. During our discussions with Angela, it also became apparent that her son could also be entitled to disability benefits in his own right.
We advised and supported Angela with the following:
- A request for a review of her disability benefit.
- An application for an added element to her Universal Credit payments in light of her medical conditions.
- An application for disability benefit for Angela’s son.
After getting support from ccha:
- Angela’s disability benefit was upgraded to the highest level
- An extra element was awarded to her on her Universal Credit claim, doubling her income.
- Angela’s son was also awarded disability benefit following our application. Due to the thoroughness of the submission, the claim was decided on paper, greatly reducing stress levels because he did not have to attend a medical assessment.
- Carer’s Allowance was put in place for Angela because she looks after her disabled son.
- Angela is now also entitled to Warm Home Discount worth £140 a year.
With our support Angela and her son received a backdated amount of £2,863 and extra income going forward of £ 13,366 a year.
Debbie is helped into a more secure tenancy
Debbie was living at one of our supported housing schemes and was ready to move on. One of our welfare advisors was copied into the moving correspondence with the local council and could see that the advice being given to Debbie was not the best option for her. Had she followed them she would now be living in an expensive, privately rented room with shared communal areas and minimal housing security. She would also be in a considerable amount of debt due to the deposit that she would have had to provide. Debbie already had some rent arrears to pay off from her previous tenancy.
We advised and supported Debbie with the following:
- Our advisor put forward an alternative proposal and worked with both the intensive housing and general needs housing teams to find a suitable home for Debbie.
- She was moved into one of our general needs properties where she qualified for two weeks extra housing benefit to clear her existing rent arrears.
- She made a Universal Credit claim and a council tax benefit claim. Because it happened on the same day of her move, she did not lose out on any entitlement on either claim.
After getting support from ccha:
- The financial pressure on Debbie was greatly reduced because instead of paying one month deposit in advance to a private landlord she only had to pay one week’s rent in advance.
- She was able to clear the rent arrears from her old property.
- She now has her own home with a more secure tenancy, the rent is cheaper and she does not have to live in shared accommodation.
- She is receiving all the benefits she is entitled to.
- She knows that if her condition gets worse, she is able to approach ccha for free benefit advice and support.
“I would like to say a big thank you to Aniko and Sharon in the Welfare and Benefits Team. I was in rent arrears, my finances were all over the place and I was living each day hand to mouth. The patience and support they have given me has been amazing; they both genuinely care. Being in debt you smile and pretend but once there is help and you find people who care, it’s a burden lifted off your shoulder. I’m now out of rent arrears and clearing my debts. I come home to no stress and I don’t have to cry at night thinking I haven’t paid this bill or that.”
Opportunities for young people
During the year we became a patron of the Legacy Youth Zone, a brand new state-of-the-art youth hub in Croydon. The Zone offers a range of activities for young people aged 8-19, including indoor rock climbing, boxing, basketball, martial arts, music production and arts and crafts. We offered our residents free membership to the Zone and 29 people took up the offer. The Zone is a valuable resource for young people in the area; it offers a safe and welcoming environment for residents to socialise, play team sports, learn new skills and improve their wellbeing. We also produce a monthly jobs and opportunities bulletin that is targeted at residents who have signed up for this service. In the coming year, we plan to offer more employment and training opportunities to help those looking for work.
We carry out additional estate improvements to schemes that fall outside of our repairs service. These projects are funded through our Presidents Fund and, this year, they included improvements to communal storage facilities, entry keypads, bin stores, fencing and lighting.
Making sure our customers are ‘digitally included’ is a key priority for us. With more services expecting people to do business online, we want to provide access and support for residents to engage with us, and others, digitally. With this in mind we have already run a number of computer training sessions to help residents get familiar with their devices.
As a result we have seen a growth in people signing up to the My ccha customer portal where residents can, for example, check their rent account, report a repair and make an enquiry. Following a survey on our digital services we have made changes to our website. As a result, we have increased our readership from 935 views in 2017/18 to 2,167 between April 2018 and March 2020. In January 2020, we published our first digital-based resident magazine, which received 3,139 page views. Through this digital format, we are able to monitor the number of visits to individual articles, which will help us to shape the content of the magazine going forward.
Satisfaction results and statistics for our website and digital newsletter.
How satisfied are you with ccha’s website?
Digital residents’ magazine open rates Cchatzone, our resident magazine achieved a successful 59% open rate, which is 21%* more than the industry standard.
*according to Mailchimp peer average performance