Consumer Council research in November 2014 shows that social tenants struggle financially more than any other group, with 49 per cent worried about making ends meet. Recognising the impact that money worries have on day-to-day life for people living in its homes, Clanmil Housing is implementing a new financial inclusion strategy aimed at improving the financial capability of its tenants.
As part of this strategy, Clanmil has created a new Money Advisor post to assist tenants with debt, rent arrears and money advice. Eddie Smith, Clanmil’s Money Advisor, explains: “My role is about helping tenants with financial problems find solutions and to support them through to resolution at a pace that suits them.
“Talking about money is never easy so it’s my job to put people at ease and build a relationship based on mutual trust so that I can help them take those important first steps towards a solution.”
One tenant helped by the Money Advice service was struggling to pay his rent and other bills while unable to work due to mental ill-health. He normally worked as a gardener so, on his behalf, Eddie contacted Perennial, a charity that helps people with a connection to the horticultural industry.
Eddie helped the tenant apply for assistance and Perennial cleared his rent arrears, helped him pay for car insurance so he could get back to work when he was ready, and spoke with his employer to organise support. He is now back at work and feeling much better.
As part of its Money Advice service, Clanmil has launched an innovative savings scheme designed to promote financial capability by encouraging tenants to start saving regularly. The Savvy Saver scheme has been introduced with the help of a donation of £15,000 from Danske Bank and runs in conjunction with local Credit Unions.
Every tenant who signs up has their membership fee paid and a £5 deposit made to their account. To encourage regular saving, those who save at least £5 each week for 12 weeks will receive a £20 bonus.
Eddie explains why Clanmil is encouraging tenants to start saving. He says: “We want to help our tenants build financial resilience so they don’t have to borrow to pay monthly bills. And when they need money in a hurry for unexpected expenses, they’ll be able to borrow at low interest rates from a Credit Union rather than feel their only option is an extortionately expensive payday loan.”
Rachael Cray, Head of Money Affairs at the Consumer Council, says: “This initiative is particularly welcome given that our research shows social tenants struggle financially more than any other group; only 46 per cent say they have money saved for a rainy day compared to 70 per cent of homeowners. Despite positive signs in the wider economy, 41 per cent say they are actually worse off financially than two years ago.”
Jacqueline Macques, who has signed up to the savings scheme, says: “Saving for a rainy day makes sense but sometimes you need a bit of a push to get started. When I heard about Savvy Saver, it seemed like too good an opportunity to miss. It’s good to put some money aside for those unexpected costs and it will make things like Christmas and the kids’ birthdays less stressful. I’m determined to stick to my new saving habit.”