Halton Housing’s Welfare Benefit and Money Advice Team have been shortlisted, for the second consecutive year running, at the Institute of Money Advice Awards in the Debt Team of the Year category.
Halton Housing’s Welfare Benefit and Money Advice Team is made up of one senior officer, three officers and a team administrator. A great deal of the work carried out by the team is now centred round Universal Credit, as Halton is one of the few areas with UC Full Service. Since April 2017 to date, the team have helped 337 people resolve their Universal Credit queries and have proved a key source of support for residents transitioning to Universal Credit.
Halton Housing’s Welfare Benefit and Money Advice Team have been instrumental in shaping the approach to Universal Credit Full service. They’ve identified fundamental failings in the processing of UC Full service, which has pushed customers into debt through benefit deductions and failure to make correct benefit payments to claimants. The team have offered training, advice and raised awareness of the issues with UC Full Service and the impact this has on a customer’s financial situation; they have written for the IMA quarterly Account and have attended the Manchester MAG meeting to deliver presentations on their UC experiences.
The Welfare Benefit and Money Advice Team have successfully raised a number of social policy issues with local Job Centres around missing UC payments and the recovery of old benefit overpayment debts. They have been a key support system for other teams throughout the organisation and have assisted Halton Housing’s Chief Executive in understanding the complex workings of UC to allow him to campaign for change on a national scale. Due to the support provided by the Welfare team, Halton Housing have this year had many high-profile appearances within the media to campaign for change to the Universal Credit payment system. The aim of this was to prevent thousands more claimants across the country falling victim to the terrible debt UC payment arrangements have caused during their first two years being rolled out in Halton.
Mark Harvey, the Tenancy Serviced Manager at Halton Housing said:
“Our Welfare Benefit and Money Advice Team have worked extremely hard this year to maximise the income of our most vulnerable customers and have helped customers claim back £2.4 million from backdated and underpayments. The team have also assisted the Chief Executive and the organisation’s Leadership Team in putting together a ‘Work and Pensions Select Committee Universal Credit Evidence Submission’. Some of the key issues identified by Halton Housing in the submission have now been addressed, which is making massive improvements to those affected.”
The 2018 IMA Money Advice Awards will be presented at the 2018 IMA Conference, which will be held on 21st and 22nd of May at the Midland Hotel, Manchester.