Goal: Financial Inclusion
"By April 2017 to offer work, family and money advice to all our residents of working age in receipt of benefits (at least 1,000)."
This new goal recognises the wider impact of the global financial crisis and subsequent cut back in public expenditure upon the communities where Rooftop has homes. The implementation of welfare reforms from 2012 onwards has increased the financial difficulties that our residents face.
We already have a wide range of services in place to support residents, particularly with payment of rent. In addition, several other goals seek to minimise living costs for residents and to support them in their home.
This goal brings together a number of specific initiatives to generate employment as well as supporting residents who are in crisis. However, the goal ultimately seeks to ensure that all residents have access to the knowledge and purchasing power of the web together with the range of financial services that many in society take for granted. Several initiatives under other goals are already moving towards this goal.
What we have done
1: Develop and launch a Social Enterprise business (2010-13)
In early 2011 a group of staff, residents and board members looked at several existing social enterprise models to explore whether something similar could help Rooftop to deliver better services for our residents and, at the same time, generate employment opportunities for local people. A small pilot project was set up within Rooftop to deliver handyman services to residents but was unable to secure enough business to become viable.
2: Employability project (2012-14)
The post of Employment Support Advisor was approved by Board in January 2012 to provide employment support and advice to residents, as part of a two year employability project linked to financial inclusion.
The project provided intensive advice and support on a one to one basis to residents:
- Encouraging them to access existing local resources such as job clubs
- Supporting them to access training opportunities
- Encouraging them to take up voluntary positions
- Advising on job searching, applications, CVs and interview techniques.
The project provided intensive advice and support on a one-to-one basis to residents.
In 2014/15 we had provided support to 77 residents with 40% entering employment and a further 4% entering full-time training. A further 21 residents became active volunteers.
3: Implement a programme to provide local employment opportunities through a joint initiative with our contractors and consultants (2010-15)
This project used the purchasing power from our £130 million new build programme (2011-2015) and £21 million maintenance programmes (2012 – 2015) to generate additional employment opportunities, particularly in communities where Rooftop had homes. 30 additional jobs were created in 2012-13, 23 in 2013-14 and a further 36 in 2014-15, creating a total of 89 jobs created from the programme.
What we are doing
4: The challenge of welfare reform (2012-17)
We have been working with staff and residents to ensure that we take positive steps to manage the changes and their impact on Rooftop as a business as well as to provide support to residents who are affected. So far we have carried out activity in the following areas:
- Monitored the impact of the changes on our rent collection and arrears.
- Provided information and training to residents and staff in a variety of formats on the welfare reform changes and the timescales for their implementation.
- Provided videos on the changes as part of a partnership project with residents and staff from two other housing providers in Worcestershire
- Appointed a new post of Financial Inclusion Advisor to provide support to residents affected by the changes. The priority for the Advisor has been to support residents affected by changes in under occupation of homes and the benefit cap. This new post has provided advice in the period 2013-15 to 534 residents on welfare benefits. So far an extra £1,276,121 (per year) in benefit income has been generated for residents. Residents have also benefited from home visits to look at their energy usage and assistance with applying for grants to reduce the impact of higher fuel bills.
- Re-structured our staff team so that we will provide assistance to new residents to ensure they can sustain their tenancy.
- Looked at payment and banking options for residents preparing for Universal Credit.
- Worked in partnership with local authorities and others to prepare for the changes including mapping the provision of money advice services locally.
The following projects under other goals also contribute to the delivery of this goal:
- Mobile working
- External cladding of hard-to-heat homes
- Programme of retrofitting environmental improvements.