Our rent arrears increased slightly in 2021/22. We understand that this has been largely caused by the impact of the cost-of-living crisis on our customers. We are trying to support customers as much as we can, and our Let’s Talk Rent campaign is enabling to us to this. By the end of March 2022 we had sent out more than 60,000 Let’s Talk Rent emails which had a 2% click through rate to our website support pages. We also sent around 10,600 text messages to customers from December 2021 to March 2022. These communications have resulted in over 100,000 conversations about rent with colleagues, and over 65,000 outcomes agreed , including payment plans to help our customers clear their rent arrears.
The Income Collection team’s focus has been on prevention and early support. The Money Advice team now sits within our Income department along with the Affordable Warmth team to help us identify customers with rent payment issues and support them to meet their priority bills of rent and utilities and to sustain their tenancies. We are continuing to support customers during the cost-of-living crisis and providing the advice needed for them to sustain their tenancies and avoid eviction.
Through funding from the Riverside Foundation, we are able to fund a number of services that support our customers. In 2021/22 these services achieved some positive outcomes:
- We have registered 251 people for employment and training advice and 132 customers have moved into employment.
- We have helped 67 people into formal training or volunteering and six into apprenticeships.
- Through our Ladders of Aspiration funding we’ve helped 26 customers to gain qualifications.
- Through our Money Advice service we have helped to increase income for customers by £2,918,480.
- Our Helping Hands hardship fund has assisted 413 customers to buy new clothes or pay for travel costs for job interviews. An additional 87 customers have benefited by getting essential furniture like a bed, fridge or sofa. We have also helped 66 customers to get emergency energy top ups.
- Affordable Warmth Officers have helped over 636 customers to save £99,258 on energy bills and provided energy advice.
We have helped support 155 vulnerable customers to live independently and receive support for their needs through our Intensive Intervention scheme.