Homes for Ukraine Scheme: Information for Torus customers considering offering a room in your home to a Ukrainian refugee – more.

 

My rent

Rent and money worries help and support

Updated: February 2022

We’re here – help and support from Torus

We know that these are worrying times for many of our customers, but we want you to know that we are here to help and always encourage customers to tell us straight away if they are experiencing problems paying their rent and there is a range of help available.  

We can agree affordable repayment plans and provide specialist advice on claiming benefits, maximising income and managing debt through our Rents, Benefits and Tenancy Sustainment teams.  

Rent payments & evictions 

You need to continue to pay your rent in full where possible. Paying as much as you can is better than paying nothing at all. We would encourage you to continue to do this to reduce your arrears and to avoid any action in the future which could put your home at risk.    

We realise you may need help from benefits to do this. You will need to make a claim to Universal Credit or other benefits to help you pay your rent for the period you are not able to work.  If you contact us we will be able to provide advice on this.    

If you are worried about falling into arrears because you cannot pay us, it is important that you speak to us as soon as possible. Failing to engage with us or make every effort to maintain some form of payment could result in legal action being taken to recover the arrears which could put your home at risk.

You need to continue to pay your rent in full where possible. Paying as much as you can is better than paying nothing at all. We would encourage you to continue to do this to reduce your arrears and to avoid any action in the future which could put your home at risk.    

N.B: In response to Covid, the Government did extend protection for renters, including those living in social housing who are affected by Covid, and bailiffs did not enforce evictions until after 22 February 2021.  However, this did not include evictions due to anti-social behaviour, illegal occupation, death of a tenant where the property is unoccupied, fraud, perpetrators of domestic abuse in social housing and extreme rent arrears equivalent to six months’ rent.  We are still able to make a claim to a court for eviction for rent arrears. This is the very last resort and we ask that you please contact us if you are unable to pay as we are here to help.

Contact us for help

If you are experiencing financial pressures and are struggling to pay your rent, please get in touch as soon as possible, as it's better to let us know now. That way we can work with you to reach a solution. 

What to do next? 

If you need help to claim benefits.  

You can receive up to a month’s advance upfront without physically attending a Jobcentre. The seven waiting days for ESA for new claimants suffering from Coronavirus or required to stay at home will not apply, so it will be payable from day one.         

For more information, including making a claim for a Discretionary Housing Payment, a Council Tax Reduction or Housing Benefit, visit your local authority's website:

We can also support you whilst you make your claim for Universal Credit so please contact us on 0800 678 1894 or email info@torus.co.uk to speak to our dedicated support teams.

If you are struggling to get through to us, other support to make a claim for Universal Credit is available from:

Additional help and support

We are regularly updating our website and social media feeds with information regarding our services and links to support for money-related matters. Keep updated on our dedicated coronavirus page Keep updated on updates on benefits and Universal Credit on our DWP update page


Torus Tenancy Sustainment Team

You can struggle to sustain their tenancy for many reasons. Torus have dedicated Tenancy Sustainment Teams in each heartland to offer you support to get back on track. They will work with the tenant(s) to understand their needs and agree actions to turn the tenancy around. A full needs assessment is completed to establish any support required working with our external partners. As part of the actions, they can also offer support with Foodbank / Food vouchers, grant applications and much more.

Each area has their own team, email yours directly on:

Or call 0800 678 1894 and ask to speak to the Duty Tenancy Sustainment Officer for your area. 


Torus Foundation
Our charitable arm offers one to one support to find you work and training, can help you use the internet to job search and claim online and be confident using a computer and the internet, gives support to claim benefits including Universal Credit, debt advice, help with food vouchers, advice on energy bills, managing your budget and to access affordable loans.  Call free on 0300 123 5809 or email info@torusfoundation.org.uk, they are here to help you, find out more on their website.
 

RAISE Money Advice Services
Torus work in partnership with RAISE, who can help you with advice about your benefits, debt and help you make the most of your money. If you would like a referral to RAISE call free on 0800 678 1894 and ask to speak to a member of the Rents Outbound Call Team. You can also visit the RAISE website.


Universal credit:
Want to know more about Universal Credit? Visit the understanding Universal Credit website.  

Visit our Universal Credit page for regular updates from the DWP and to keep updated with how the Coronavirus is impacting Universal Credit.
 

How could Universal Credit help you?
No matter what your circumstances, Universal Credit helps make sure you’re getting all the financial support you’re entitled to in one place, and all the help that’s right for you, whether you are:

  • in work
  • wanting to increase your earnings
  • looking for a job
  • unable to work at the moment

It can include financial support for the cost of housing, children and childcare, so if you are eligible, the amount you receive will be customised to your unique personal circumstances.
Find out more about the Universal Credit support available: www.understandinguniversalcredit.gov.uk/help-for-you/


Council tax support:
If your income has reduced, you may be eligible for support in paying your council tax. If you are already claiming but your income has changed, you will need let your council know there has been a change of circumstances so they can re-assess your claim. Visit your local authority website:


Energy bills:
Millions of households face a 54% energy bill hike from 1 April 2022 after the regulator Ofgem lifted the cap on default tariffs to the equivalent of just under £2,000 a year for an average user, with a £700 on average increase.

Some of you may be worrying about how you are going to pay your utility bills, and for those on pre-payment meters, how you’re going to keep them topped up.  Ofgem, the regulatory authority for gas and electric have published the following general advice for those who may struggle to pay their household energy bills.

Click here to access to get more information on support for increasing energy bills and living costs.
 

Warm Home Discount:
If you get the Guarantee Credit element of Pension Credit or are on a low income, you could be eligible for up to £140 off your electricity bill for winter under the Warm Home Discount Scheme.

The Warm Home Discount scheme opens each October, its advised to apply as soon as you can.

The money is not paid to you - it’s a one-off discount on your electricity bill, between October and March.

You may be able to get the discount on your gas bill instead if your supplier provides you with both gas and electricity. Contact your supplier to find out.

To find out more information including how to apply, visit: www.gov.uk/the-warm-home-discount-scheme

Support from Torus
If any of our Torus tenants would like support applying for the Warm Home Discount, call us on 0300 123 5809 and ask to speak to one of our Torus Foundation Financial Inclusion colleagues.

More help with energy bills
Find out more about Grants and benefits to help you pay your energy bills on the Citizens Advice website – with information on Winter Fuel Payment and Cold Weather Payments.


Water Bills:
If you are struggling to pay your water bill, United Utilities have also launched a new Pay-As-U-Go service to give your more flexibility in paying your water bill.  Find out more on the website or call them on 0800 072 6765.


Warm and Safe Homes (WASH) – FREE Advice to keep warm and safe in your home:
WASH is a free support service providing advice to vulnerable householders living in England on their energy bills and keeping warm and safe in their home as well as information for frontline workers on current advice agency and fuel supplier support for customers in relation to Covid-19.  They offer:

  • Telephone/online support for householders and case workers
  • Supported e-learning for frontline staff We can help you with
  • Warm Home Discount and Priority Service Register information
  • Support with gas and electricity accounts including fuel debt
  • Switching suppliers Energy efficiency
  • Trust fund applications
  • Water rates
  • Benefits advice and income maximisation

For more information please visit www.nea.org.uk/advice/make-a-referral. You can also email donna.senghore@nea.org.uk or call 0800 304 7159.

From - National Energy Action (NEA), the leading fuel poverty and energy efficiency charity.


Free TV licence fees for over-75s from 1 August 2020:
Free TV Licences, funded by the Government, for all over 75s ended in July 2020. 

From 1 August 2020 anyone aged 75 or over receiving Pension Credit will be eligible to apply for a free TV Licence, paid for by the BBC. Pension Credit can be in the name of the licence holder, or in their partner’s name if they are a couple living at the same address.

Click here to find out more about the changes and how you could claim Pension Credit to still be able to claim a free TV licence, amongst other benefits.
 

Smartphone: Tesco Mobile Reconnect

Tesco are running a scheme called Reconnect until 2023, aimed at vulnerable and disadvantaged people to help them stay connected.

Between now and 2023, will see Tesco Mobile commit to giving over £2.4 million worth of phones, devices and connectivity to help vulnerable and disadvantaged people reconnect with society.

A phone is supplied to the customer with three months credit.

If you or someone you know needs a device or connectivity, then email a request to tescomobile.littlehelps@tesco.com  - find out more: www.tescomobile.com/reconnects 

If you need to apply contact Torus Foundation on 0300 123 5809 or email info@torusfoundation.org.uk.
 

Are you eligible for the new Healthy Start Digital Card?
Families on low incomes are encouraged to sign up or if already signed up, look out for their letter telling them to switch to a new card offering healthy food funding.
Those using Healthy Start vouchers will soon be switched to a Healthy Start prepaid card which allows them to buy essentials to keep their family’s diet full of vital fruit, vegetables, milk and more.
The Healthy Start scheme is open to pregnant women who are more than 10 weeks pregnant through to parents who have a child under four-years-old and meet the requirements. The current weekly amount is between £4.25 and £8.50. The new card system will replace the vouchers and works with the advantage of being paid onto the card every four weeks. This can then be used in a variety of shops across the borough to buy: 

  • plain liquid cow’s milk 
  • fresh, frozen, and tinned fruit and vegetables 
  • fresh, dried, and tinned pulses 
  •  infant formula milk based on cow’s milk 

The card also allows you to collect: 

  • Healthy Start vitamins – available through pregnancy and breastfeeding 
  • Vitamin drops for babies and young children – from birth to four-year-olds 

The new card can be accepted at any shop that takes Mastercard.  To find out more about the Healthy Start scheme, including how to apply if you think you might qualify but don’t already receive the funding visit www.healthystart.nhs.uk or call 0345 607 6823. 

Help to apply
If you are not confident using a computer/device and need help to apply and build your digital skills and increase your online confidence, then speak to Torus Foundation who will be able to help.  Call them on 0300 123 5809 or email info@torusfoundation.org.uk.


Cash for school uniforms
School uniforms can be expensive - and that's why some local authorities offer struggling parents a grant to cover some of the cost.  You could get up to £150 to put towards your child's school uniform, but the amount varies depending on which council area you live in.  Find out more on gov.uk.
Also check out local uniform swapping groups in your local community, you can usually find them on Facebook.
 

Cheaper internet
People on Universal Credit can get low cost connections from providers:

  • BT Home Essentials can save customers who are on Universal Credit and other benefits £240 per year on their bills.  You can get online and make calls for just £15 per month, or £20 a month if you want speedier internet.  There's also call-only tariff which costs £10 per month (equivalent tariffs for those not claiming benefits cost £27.99 for the internet connections and £7 for calls.
  • Virgin Media also offers a deal for those on Universal Credit called Essential.  It's priced at £15 per month and offers 15mbps, but does not come with calls and is for existing Virgin customers only.
  • Other options out there right now are similarly priced, but are not as widely available, including local provider Hyperoptic and KCOM.

 

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