North Somerset Council and landlords team up to introduce new scheme for families on benefits
PUBLISHED: 08:00 27 September 2017
Lower income families and individuals will be able to secure private rented accommodation with the help of local landlords.
A new scheme will aim to prevent homelessness in North Somerset by offering more support to people who claim benefits.
Since the introduction of Universal Credit – which will see claimers receive one direct monthly sum – people have been finding it harder to rent privately.
Before Universal Credit was introduced, money for rent was transferred directly to the landlords.
Now an increasing number of landlords said they would no longer accept people on Universal Credit as many feared they would not receive the monthly rent, leaving tenants struggling to find somewhere to live.
North Somerset Council and landlords in the area have now teamed up to help people who claim benefits access affordable housing.
The Ark Passport Scheme will allow tenants to separate and prioritise payments so landlords know they will be paid the monthly rent.
The introduction of the new scheme will encourage private landlords to accept people on benefits and reduce the homelessness crisis.
Executive council member for housing Cllr Elfan Ap Rees said: “We have been looking for a long term and sustainable solution to increase the supply of residential properties from within the private rented sector in North Somerset, to continue to effectively tackle the issue of homelessness prevention.
“Working in collaboration with The Ark Passport scheme, we hope to alleviate the financial concerns faced by landlords when accepting tenants who are in receipt of housing benefit and Universal Credit.
“They will also have the backing and support of the council’s housing resource team which has dedicated officers to assist both landlords and tenants throughout the tenancy.”
The Ark will be a welcome edition when the Government’s £61million Homelessness Reduction Act comes into force in April next year.
The bill will place a legal duty on council to give people meaningful support to try to resolve homelessness.
A recent count completed by the council found only three people sleeping rough.
However homeless charity Somewhere To Go has as many as 50 people using its services in a day, with 17 people describing themselves as rough-sleepers and as sofa surfers.
A free seminar on The Ark Passport will be held for private landlords and letting agents today (Wednesday) from 6-8pm at Weston Museum, in Burlington Street.