Helping tenants manage the impact of welfare reform - KNH Homefit Service

Content owner : housing@knh.org.uk Last updated : 03/08/15

What was the project need and how was it identified?

The Government's welfare reforms affect many of our tenants who claim housing benefits and who are under-occupying their homes. In anticipation of the challenges and the financial implications for our poorest tenants, KNH took over the Council's Homefit project in 2012.

The Homefit Team works proactively, contacting tenants affected by the changes to:



  • explain the options available
  • prioritise those under-occupying by two or more bedrooms, as they experience the greatest impact
  • give them higher banding priority to find new homes
  • support with the bidding process and financially
KNH Homefit officer, Sarah Jowitt, with one of our tenants helped by the scheme.

KNH Homefit officer, Sarah Jowitt, with one of our tenants helped by the scheme.


What difference has the project made?

In 2013, 2200 households were affected by under-occupancy. We recognised that many tenants did not wish to move and the number of smaller homes we had available was limited, but to date:

  • 262 tenants have moved through HomeFit and are no longer subject to the 'bedroom tax' charge
  • In 2014-15, we helped 68 households move, with 59 receiving financial support.
  • Currently 118 tenants are registered with Homefit.


What outcomes were achieved for tenants?

  • We have helped tenants downsize to a smaller, more affordable property, which helps create more sustainable tenancies.
  • There has been significant benefits for tenants
    • improved health and wellbeing, as they keep more of their income
    • no rent arrears or extra rent to pay
    • new homes are cheaper to run.

What factors were keys to the success of the project?

  • The leadership committing resources to this project
  • The dedication from the Homefit Team to help prevent tenants struggling with the under-occupancy charge and/or falling into arrears and potentially losing their homes
  • Tenants getting support throughout the process during this difficult time - financial incentives have been key to helping tenants move. We have offered:
    • payment towards removals, carpets etc.
    • in some cases, cover a rent overlap to give people time to move more easily
    • sorting out utilities and other services, as many affected struggle to do this due to phone call costs and no internet access

What will happen next?

Beyond the cost of two housing officers the average cost of a Homefit move is £270. We see this as a small price to pay for a successful and sustainable tenancy - and a tenant who is better off financially, physically and emotionally.


Homefit officers will continue to help customers find new homes in partnership with our financial inclusion team and external support agencies. Officers will continue to work closely with the council's adaptations service to ensure that people are matched quickly and receive all the support they need


What objectives does the project contribute to?

Kirklees Council - tackling the cost of living crisis together

KNH

  • Challenge - supporting people to maximise their finances, life chances and reduce debt
  • Quality - working within partners to improve health and wellbeing

Social Housing Equalities Framework

  • 3.17 - projects are delivering on equality objectives and contributing to business priorities
  • 3.22 - tenants have been treated fairly and their human rights have been respected

Customer Service Excellence

  • 1.1.2 We have developed customer insight about our customer groups to better understand their needs and preferences.
  • 1.1.3 We make particular efforts to identify hard-to-reach and disadvantaged groups and individuals and have developed our services in response to their specific needs.
  • 2.2.5 We value the contribution our staff make to delivering customer focused services, and leaders, managers and staff demonstrate these behaviours.
  • 3.4.1 We have made arrangements with other providers and partners to offer and supply co-ordinated services, and these arrangements have demonstrable benefits for our customers.
  • 3.4.2 We have developed co-ordinated working arrangements with our partners that ensure customers have clear lines of accountability for quality of service.