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Welfare Reform preparations pay off for Orbit

Orbit is bucking the overall housing sector trend with a significant reduction in rent arrears during 2013/14.

As part of Orbit’s on-going pledge to invest in supporting residents, they are proud that while other housing associations are seeing significant increases as a result of Welfare Reforms, their work on addressing the reforms has contributed significantly to a reduction in rent arrears of around £210,000.

Lee Steele, Head of Income Services, Orbit Living, says “I am delighted with our results, which are a real credit to our team’s hard work and adaptability.  We have worked tirelessly on Welfare Reform for several years now and are really reaping the rewards for that work.  Our strong commitment to customer education, advice and support has effectively enabled our residents to understand their options and plan for changes which affect them.”

We have produced a number of well-regarded communication tools which have been used across the sector, including information leaflets, staff training materials, a pre-tenancy sustainability checker and our sector-leading resident reward scheme.  Our proactive Money Advice and Tenancy Support service has provided additional support for customers facing difficulty - resulting in a gain of around £2.5 million in additional income for customers in the last year - whilst also successfully reducing evictions.

Of Orbit’s entire housing stock, around 2,500 households are subject to reductions in their housing benefit due to under occupying their home, with 167 customers having their benefit reduced due to exceeding the overall cap on weekly benefits.  Since April 2013, approximately 275 under occupiers have moved to alternative occupation. 

Lee Steele continues “We are committed to treating our customers as adults, providing them with information so that they can make their own informed choices in difficult economic times. We fully support a culture of personal responsibility, enabling us to focus our attentions on our more vulnerable customers and provide support where it is needed.”