Lowest rent arrears ever at Plymouth Community Homes!

Our rent arrears figures for last year were the lowest at a year end since our records began.

At the end of March, the figures were 1.25% – this is despite residents faced with the challenge of Universal Credit.

We’re also proud that we had just nine rent arrears evictions – also our lowest figure.

Our figures are proof of the hard work we’ve put in helping tenants manage their finances since welfare reform began in 2013.

Liz Phillips, Head of Income Management and Housing Operations, said: “We never want to see tenants struggling to pay their rent and face the prospect of eviction.

“In 2013, we set up a welfare reform team which has been working tirelessly to offer support to tenants affected by Bedroom Tax, the Benefit Cap and more recently, Universal Credit, which is now fully rolled out in Plymouth.

“Because we’ve put so much work in, we’ve been able to identify tenants who may be worst affected by the reforms and speak to them early on.

“This decreases the chance of them getting into rent arrears.”

Many of our tenants are affected by Bedroom Tax and we help on average four customers per week register on Devon Home Choice to move to a smaller home.

Our financial inclusion officers brought in more than £900,000 of extra income over the year for hundreds of households referred to them in the form of benefits, housing benefit, benefit backdates, discretionary housing payments and charitable applications over the year. 

We carried out visits to 7,000 people to prepare them for Universal Credit and a visit is now offered to every tenant who starts to claim it.

We’ve also been involved with the debate at national level. We participated in a Select Committee in Parliament last year to talk about the effects of the reform on our tenants and presented a list of measures to improve the operation of Universal Credit.

Soon after, we were pleased to see changes to the system were announced.