Poverty leaves many people living in social housing little means of buying decent, essential furnishings for their home. Across the UK, less than 2% of social housing stock is furnished despite furnished tenancies topping tenants' priorities for social landlords to tackle their financial exclusion.
Historically across the sector, all furnishings, flooring and window coverings are removed from a property regardless of quality when a customer moves out and the property becomes void.
To read more about Furniture Poverty, visit www.endfurniturepoverty.org
Carpets and Curtains
In January 2017, we ran a pilot project in Stratford-upon-Avon, which tested the process and impact of leaving good quality floor and window coverings in our properties. This included carpets, laminate and tiled floors, blinds and curtains.
Over the course of the 12 month pilot, around 50 customers benefitted from gifted items, with the median replacement value in the region of £50. There are clear cost and time savings from a reduced workload on the Property Services team, no negative impact on void turnaround times and a reduction in landfill waste.
Feedback from customers has been incredibly positive - read Danielle's case study below.
- Practical actions
- Retain good quality flooring and window coverings in properties and gift them to incoming customers at the time of re-letting
- Provide furniture packs for those who are struggling financially
- Promote affordable and accessible alternatives to high street lenders and weekly payment retailers
- Ensure all properties are secure, including access to and from communal blocks and communal areas are well maintained
- Case study
Danielle and daughter Elsie
Wellesbourne with 10-month-old daughter Elsie, and mum Jackie. Through the pilot, the family has benefitted from carpets left in the lounge, hall, stairs and two of the three bedrooms as well as a kitchen blind. In total, they are estimated to have benefitted from £1,200 of goods making their new house, a home.
Danielle said: "It was one less thing to have to pay for straight away - because it's expensive moving as it is - and obviously carpets aren't very cheap. Having my baby daughter, it was much safer than having no carpet at all."
- Cost neutral to the organisation
- Positive impact on void timescales - allows customers to move in quicker
- Improved disposable income for customer
- Reduces landfill and encourages recycling
The work that Orbit has undertaken is both answering a vital need and innovative. As a specialist in the field of 'Furniture Poverty', I applaud Orbit for the research they ahve conducted and the practical action that has resulted from that research. Orbit has created a model of best practice that can easily be replicated and help tens of thousands of families across the UK."
Shaun Doran, CEO, FRC Group Ltd - Furniture Resource Centre