Oct 30 2008 By Gordon May
GLASGOW Housing Association (GHA) is offering tenants a rent lifeline by launching a special campaign carrying the message 'Rent - don't make it a problem'.
It will offer welfare benefits advice to tenants who are experiencing difficulties paying their rent while encouraging those tenants who won't pay to do so, before it's too late.
The four-week campaign advertises GHA's brand new Freephone Customer Service Centre number - 0800 479 7979 - as the initial point of contact for tenants seeking help or advice.
Tenants can be referred to housing staff or, where appropriate, GHA's specialist welfare advice officers who will be on hand to provide assistance with every aspect of the benefits system, from performing benefit checks, to filling in forms and representing tenants at appeals.
Dedicated 'Benefit Surgeries' will also be launched as part of the campaign - taking place throughout the network of local housing organisations (LHOs).
The surgeries will give tenants the opportunity to discuss their individual circumstances with a welfare benefits officer face-to-face.
Martin Armstrong, GHA's executive director of housing and customer services said: "GHA recognises that some tenants may be worried about or experiencing difficulties paying their rent - especially in the current financial climate.
"This campaign will enable tenants to seek the help they need, while reassuring them that we will do everything within our power to alleviate their situation and reduce their debt."
He added: "There are also some tenants who choose not to pay their rent and the aim is to educate our customers about what their rent is actually used for.
"By not paying their rent tenants are holding up investment throughout the city, which is detrimental to all of our customers and to Glasgow as a whole."
Rent payments enable GHA to carry out its multimillion pound improvement programme which, since the stock transfer in March 2003, has delivered 36,784 heating systems, 10,754 new windows, 24,515 new kitchens and 24,442 new bathrooms.
GHA established a welfare benefits service as one of its first priorities following stock transfer.
Tenants have so far been able to access this service through their LHO.
Since the service began 12 welfare benefits officers have helped tenants claim back £14.5 million in benefits.