Orbit customers are benefitting from a £500,000 income boost thanks to the affordable housing provider’s new Welfare Advice Service.
Launched in October as part of a raft of new measures introduced by Orbit to help customers manage their finances, maximise their income and reduce the pressure of cost-of-living increases, the service supported 169 customers in the first three months of operation and identified £571,703 of unclaimed benefits and grants – increasing the average net income of each customer by over £3,382 per year.
Provided by Citizens Advice South Warwickshire and Bedworth, Rugby and Nuneaton Citizens Advice Bureau (BRANCAB), the free service available to all Orbit customers as part of its Better Days programme, will support around 1,200 tenants and homeowners who need help to understand and apply for the benefits that they’re eligible for as well as providing coaching about how to become more financially resilient.
Jo Brown, Financial Inclusion Lead for Orbit commented: “The funds being unlocked by this new service are going to make a huge difference to our customers. We’re really pleased about the level of engagement so far, but it does illustrate the point that there are a large number of people out there that don’t understand the benefits and grants that are available to them and we’re committed to reaching as many customers as possible to ensure they get the support that they need.”
One Orbit customer who benefited from the service commented: “‘I didn’t know Housing Associations could be like this – I made one phone call and they’ve stepped in with all this support.”
The Welfare Advice Service is open to all eligible Orbit customers five days a week both online and via telephone.
Other support measures introduced by Orbit include commissioning fuel poverty charity National Energy Action (NEA) to provide specialist energy advice, a new cost-of-living education hub on Orbit’s customer website, a furnished home pilot to help customers out of furniture poverty, and an increase in capacity to Orbit’s existing mental health support Breathing Space commissioned with Mind and Aspire4u.