North Ayrshire Council and five housing associations including Ayrshire Housing have teamed up with the 1st Alliance Credit Union to help tenants prepare for changes brought in by Welfare Reform and the introduction of Universal Credit.
Known as the Ayrshire Financial Access Partnership (AFAP), the project offers assistance to tenants to help set up bank accounts and manage household budgets. The service will be open to the partners’ 22,000 tenants and their families.
Universal Credit will see tenants receive a single payment, once a month, paid directly into a bank account, with housing benefit included in that payment. The tenant will then need to pay their rent directly to their landlord. The landlords are urging tenants to sign up to the credit union and arrange for direct debits or budgeting accounts to help them manage their rent payments ahead of universal credit.
The landlords will help tenants set up an account by assisting them to complete the application form, providing them with proof of identification or proof of address.
Helping to launch the initiative, Paul Torrance Ayrshire Housing’s Chair said “Ayrshire Housing recently expanded its service to tenants with a dedicated money advice officer. I’m pleased that by working in partnership with 1st Alliance and our colleagues across Ayrshire we can now offer a service to help tenants manage their finances at low cost. Saving and then borrowing with a credit union provides a value for money alternative to the pay day loan companies”.
North Ayrshire Council Cabinet Member for Health and Social Care Councillor Anthea Dickson added “As Welfare Reform changes come into effect we want to make sure tenants don’t find themselves in financial difficulty. Joining 1st Alliance Credit Union will help people adapt to these changes. They can give advice on how tenants can manage their money, and offer low cost financial products. I would urge tenants to take advantage of the help on offer and also remind them if they are affected by welfare reform and facing any financial difficulties to contact their landlord who can offer assistance, and if necessary refer them for specialist advice”.