By Mohamed Rashid
Money management is important for us all – particularly as living costs continue to rise. If you are on a low income, or combining a salary with Universal Credit, then it is even more vital.
At Evolve we give people whatever they need to leave homelessness behind for good. Helping them manage their finances is part of this.
We help organise rental payments, support people with budgeting and offer wider financial advice. We also carry out appeals and reviews of housing benefit claims on behalf of customers, to ensure that they get what they are entitled to and are not charged incorrectly for anything.
Our customers pay rent, just as they would with other housing providers. There are lots of differences between us and other providers (our service charge is relatively low and high value for money, we accept housing benefit payments, we offer lots of extra support), but the process of renting is fundamentally the same. I work with customers to ensure that this rent is paid.
But we’re not bailiffs. If people are struggling financially then we’ll help figure things out, whether by creating budgets with them, or designing personal payments plans to reflect their economic situation. This ensures that we receive the money we need, and that people develop financial skills that they can use again in the future.
For customers (especially young ones), understanding the rental process and managing a budget is valuable preparation for the day they move on from Evolve. As such, as well as working with individuals on their rent, we run workshops and drop-in sessions to help people understand things like benefits and tax.
In this way, both we and our customers win. Customers can strengthen their money-management skills, and prove to prospective landlords that they will be reliable tenants. We in turn receive the rent we need to continue delivering our services – either directly from customers, or through their housing benefit.
The whole process can be extremely rewarding, and you can see people’s confidence and knowledge improve over time. I’m there when they first come to us (potentially straight from sleeping rough) and set up their details, and I’m there when they pay their last round of rent and move on to new homes and new lives. It’s challenging work, but we’re making a real difference.
Mohamed is the Rent and Income Officer at the Fitze Millennium Centre.