Hundreds of Knowsley residents accessed advice and support about welfare reform at special ‘roadshow’ events.
The Benefits Roadshow, organised by Knowsley Housing Trust, hit the streets of Huyton and Kirkby where people could speak to specialist welfare advisors about the changes to benefits that are being introduced and how it will affect the support they receive.
It is just one of the ways that KHT, part of the First Ark Group, is supporting tenants through the Government’s welfare reform programme.
Executive Director of Customers and Communities Sheila Tolley said: “It was good to see so many people engaging with us about welfare reform. I spoke to many people at the roadshow who will be affected and were very worried and confused about what to do.
KHT has employed specialist advisors and also has a range of support services to help with debt and money management, energy tariffs, bank accounts, getting online and training and employment opportunities such as apprenticeships and The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award scheme.
Reforms include the switch to Universal Credit, benefit caps and changes to disability living allowance, incapacity benefits and employment support allowance. The first to be introduced will be the ‘Bedroom Tax’ in April, which could affect more than 3,000 KHT tenants.
The ‘Bedroom Tax’ aims to address the government’s definition of under-occupancy by reducing the housing benefit to households which it considers to have one or more spare bedrooms.
Damian Smith received advice at the roadshow. He has lived in his two-bedroom home in Westvale, Kirkby, for around 30 years and has been the only occupant since his parents passed away 10 years ago.
He stands to be affected by the bedroom tax, but hopes to gain employment and take himself out of benefits altogether.
He said: “I am concerned about the bedroom tax. I knew it was happening but didn’t really know what it would mean so it has been really useful speaking to advisors.”
Sheila added: “We are working to minimise the impact on our tenants as much as we possibly can and to help them manage their budgets to make sure they don’t run into financial trouble when the changes happen.”
For more information email [email protected] or call 0151 290 7000 and ask to speak to a member of the income team.
Caption: The KHT team at the roadshow.