We have been 'Getting to know' our Money Advice team. The team provide our residents with support and guidance on their finances, benefits, debt and more. The team goes beyond just form-filling and directing.

We recently spoke with Caroline, our Money Advice Team Leader who has shared her working week as part of #TeamYHG's Money Advice team. 

This is my seventh year at Your Housing Group (YHG). I love what we do - caring for our residents and supporting them in anyway we can, however I don’t love the level of need that we are seeing.
No day or week is ever the same, I have pulled together a roundup of what a working week might look like for me and the range of work that me and my team do!

I began my week welcoming a new starter and introducing them to the team. 
Keeping up to date on policies and entitlement is crucial in delivering our services. I attended a Universal Credit/Department for Working Pensions (DWP) workshop to gain knowledge on processes to ensure our residents don't suffer any financial detriment when it comes to switching benefits. 
In the afternoon, I helped secure a housing benefit payment with a colleague in my team to support a vulnerable resident. All arrears have now been cleared and the resident is extremely relieved.

I held a 1-2-1 meeting with a member of my team to review cases. I like to do this regularly to ensure that my team have all the support that they need, and to check on the progress of each case.
Another significant part of our work is liaising with partner agencies, this is important in ensuring that our customers have access to the right support nationally and locally.

We also work closely with local authorities, and I have been liaising with Warrington Borough Council Housing Benefit department to secure a discretionary housing payment to clear rent arrears for a vulnerable resident. Each customer journey is unique, and our team aim to support our residents and advocate for those who need it.

There is always admin to do - so I spent an afternoon reviewing emails and updates with regards to benefit entitlement from DWP and local authorities where I will share the information across my team.

There is a growing need for our support, so ensuring that we prioritise is crucial! I met with our Money Advice Triage Officer to review and allocate referrals in priority order, this helps ens
ure residents are contacted and supported in a timely manner.
Our team provides support to customers right across our communities, so we regularly engage with other teams in YHG so that the customer voice and experience is heard.

With debt often comes rent arrears, which in turn puts a residents' home at risk. But for YHG, eviction is always, always a last resort, we will always look for a solution.
Today I attended a rare review panel on eviction to ensure money advice is offered and support to prevent eviction where ever possible.

Loan sharks and illegal money lenders are currently a big risk to many people. They target those who are vulnerable and can quickly cause a spiral of debt. I ended my week at a conference with Manchester Police and the National Illegal Money Lending team to look at best practise to support vulnerable residents at risk of loan sharks and illegal money lending practises.
Today I also contacted a resident to review a recent telephone assessment for Personal Independence Payment (PIP) as they needed support with utility debts.
Fuel poverty has been an emerging threat that we have seen building for a while. It's so difficult to hear about families choosing between heating their homes or feeding their children.

While we can’t fix all problems, and we are here to ensure our residents are able to pay their rent, we do really care. We want our residents to be happy and flourish in their safe home.
If any of our customers are worried about their finances, we will always urge them to get in touch, you never know what you could be entitled to and missing out on.