Staff from the Fife Housing Association Alliance have taken part in a joint event aimed at helping tenants and customers who are struggling to meet their household bills on small incomes.
Employees from housing associations Fife, Glen, Kingdom and Ore Valley attending the joint continued professional development event heard from a range of organisations about the practical advice and assistance available to tenants ranging from benefits advice, energy saving measures and assistance to switch to more affordable energy tariffs.
Delegates heard presentations from partner organisations Citizens Advice Rights Fife (CARF), Our Power, Cosy Kingdom and Wise 2 Welfare, who all highlighted the full range of support services they can provide to tenants and customers of the housing associations.
Ann McManus and Brenda Bain, from Frontline Fife, gave details on the Wise 2 Work project in Fife that supports tenants through tailored and personalised support services. They cited case studies, showing how individuals could increase their confidence and skills to ensure they are in control of their household budgets. Audrey Cunningham, financial inclusion officer with CARF, provided an overview of the range of services that CARF provides.
Darren Campbell, senior energy adviser with the Cosy Kingdom project, outlined some of the services they provide which include benefits checks, help to tenants so they can understand their energy bills, assistance to switch to more affordable tariffs and assistance associated with free energy saving measures.
Michael Hui, Kingdom Housing Association’s energy adviser, also gave some ‘energy savvy’ tips and tested delegates’ knowledge on effective use of energy.
Our Power, an energy supply company registered as a Community Benefits Society, was set up by Scottish housing associations to help reduce costs and improve energy services for tenants. Graeme Bruce, lead officer for market innovation with Our Power, provided information on Our Power’s aims and objectives and how housing associations can work together, to address the challenges being faced by tenants related to energy services and fuel costs.
On behalf of Fife Housing Association Alliance, Bill Banks, Kingdom chief executive, said: “We want our staff to focus on helping to build our tenants’ capacity and encourage householder empowerment, rather than try to develop a culture of dependency. We want to help tenants to improve their household budgeting and provide advice and assistance services that ensure people are living in warmer homes, paying affordable energy costs and have more stable finances on a long-term basis.”