Bield has appointed two Income Advice Officers to help tenants navigate the complex process of grant applications.
Since joining the organisation at the end of 2022, Scott Alexander and Rebecca Summers have utilised their extensive expertise to drive over £60,000 in savings for tenants in just under six months.
Vital grant applications such as Housing Benefit and Universal Credit (UC) have been a primary focus for them - the total ongoing payment for Housing Benefit and UC reaches an impressive £1,797 per week, which can provide substantial relief for tenants' rental expenses.
Backdated benefit payments account for a significant portion of the five-figure savings so far, with tenants receiving lump sums of £2,000 on average through intervention from the Income Advice Officers.
Scott joined the Bield team in November 2022, bringing a wealth of experience in welfare rights, specialising in areas such as mental health and cancer.
Commenting on his role, Scott said: “It’s been an incredibly positive few months - between Rebecca and I, we’ve spoken to over 300 Bield tenants so far.
“We’re not just here to help them seek new grants, but to also reassure them and ease any financial concerns they may have.
“The creation of these roles is a testament to Bield’s forward thinking approach to proactively help tenants with that much needed support.”
Rebecca Summers, who started at Bield in December 2022, has 10 years’ experience in welfare rights advice, and previously specialised in providing advice to individuals (and their families) with dementia, cancer and long-term illnesses.
Rebecca, said: “The cost-of-living crisis affects people in all walks of life and applying for financial help can be an overwhelming experience. The support we’ve provided so far is not only reassuring for Bield tenants, but for their family and friends too.
“A perfect example of the help we have been able to provide so far is the support we gave to a tenant who speaks very little English. We helped him understand the system and submit his application, lifting him out of financial poverty as a result.
“Scott and I are both committed to continuing to support tenants in any way we can, making sure they receive all that they are entitled to.”
The Income Advice Officers offer guidance on charity applications, grant applications (including Community Care Grants and Discretionary Housing Payments) and facilitate access to food banks throughout Scotland, as well as identifying further benefits tenants may be eligible for.
These additional benefits, ranging from £5 to £182 per week, empower tenants to address their individual needs and improve their quality of life.
Dr Lynne Douglas, Bield CEO, added: “We proactively created the Income Advice Officer roles to ensure our tenants are receiving the support and guidance they need.
“Scott and Rebecca are extremely driven and have hit the ground running. Their innovative and resourceful approaches are inspiring as they continually explore avenues to match tenants' circumstances and find solutions that make a genuine difference.”