Leading national housing provider Hanover Housing Association is celebrating after helping thousands of residents generate additional income of more than £9.8 million via its free Be Wise advice service.
Hanover, with 19,500 Retirement Housing and Extra Care Housing properties for over 55s located across England, was one of the first housing providers to have a dedicated financial wellbeing advice service for residents, also offering energy saving solutions and guidance on essential benefits.
Since beginning in 2012, Hanover’s Be Wise team has taken a proactive approach to supporting residents. Along with expert financial rights and energy advisers, the team provides assistance that can keep a roof over the head of older residents facing the threat of eviction. The service also helps them to gain access to life-changing home adaptation packages and to get online and use the internet safely.
On average the financial rights and energy advisors have improved the income of more than 900 residents by some £4,120 per year. This additional income has had a significant impact and can enable residents to live independently for longer in their homes.
So far, more than 230 Be Wise events have been held at estates nationally to raise awareness around financial rights, energy company switching and provide guidance on how to increase incomes. While the annual Be Wise Challenge had targeted £1 million of additional income or savings to be generated for residents, the team has regularly exceeded this, securing £1.54m in 2017/18.
In one case, a resident had been advised by his local authority to contact the Department for Work & Pensions and request that his housing cost details be provided as part of a Universal Credit claim. Unfortunately this left him worse off, but the Be Wise team was able to correct the errors, help the resident to successfully challenge the ruling and also assist with the take-up of Personal Independence Payments. This means he is actually now better off by over £330 per week, or around £17,000 per year.
Cressida Stanley-Williams, Service Development Manager for Hanover, said: ‘We are rightly proud to have assisted residents with their budgeting and savings, helping to deliver an amazing £9.8 million so far. This shows Hanover’s commitment to improving the overall wellbeing of residents and helps ensure we go above and beyond just a bricks and mortar level of service.
‘Be Wise continues to achieve great success in offering tangible changes and provides additional security for many residents who want to continue living as independently as possible in their homes. Anything we can do to help them achieve that is a reward in itself, especially if it allows them to remain connected to their local community.’
Despite the rise of silver surfers across the UK, digital use is lowest among over 75s. According to the Office for National Statistics, 2.8 million people aged 75+ have never used the internet. Hanover has assisted residents to gain digital access, helping them to save time and money, improving their well-being.
According to the charity Independent Age, nearly one million people aged over 75 live in poverty and need more help. The benefits system in the UK is complicated and many over 55s do not think that they are entitled to extra help,nor do they want the stigma of applying.
Visit our Be Wise services section for more information.