Orbit has launched a new Welfare Benefits Advice Service as part of a raft of measures to help customers manage their finances, maximise their income and reduce the pressure of cost of living increases.
The free to customer service, which will be provided by Citizens Advice South Warwickshire and Bedworth, Rugby and Nuneaton Citizens Advice Bureau (BRANCAB), will support around 1,200 tenants and homeowners every year, who need help to understand and apply for the benefits that they’re eligible for as well as providing coaching about how to become more financially resilient.
“Cost of living increases in energy prices, food and other basic costs and economic uncertainty are increasing affordability pressures on customers. Tax and benefit changes are also having an impact in addition to removal of the £20 Covid-19 top-up to Universal Credit.
“Feedback suggests that our customers are struggling with knowing what benefits they are eligible for and missing out on potential income. This new service will be part of our Better Days programme, which offers a range of support for customers, from access to mental health support to training and grants. Hopefully it will help people navigate the current cost of living crisis and ensure they access the benefits to which they are entitled, as well as reducing financial exclusion and helping customers become more financially resilient for the future.”Naomi Williams, Investment and Commissioning Manager for Orbit
“Along with Bedworth, Rugby and Nuneaton Citizens Advice Bureau, we are delighted to be working in partnership with Orbit to offer support to its customers, many of whom need input from Citizens Advice to move their personal circumstances into a more positive space. Our advisors provide dedicated support aimed at helping clients ensure they are receiving all the support they need at this most difficult of times. The impact of the cost of living crisis is being felt increasingly and we are pleased to be partnering with Orbit in supporting their tenants.”Julie Robinson, Chief Executive from Citizens’ Advice South Warwickshire
The Welfare Advice Service will be open to all eligible Orbit customers five days a week both online and via telephone. The service is one of a number of new measures that Orbit is introducing to support customers through the cost of living crisis including:
- A new online ‘Cost of Living Hub’ on the Orbit Customer Hub will include information about government and local council support; energy support and lowering energy usage; debt advice, food affordability and budget planning; mental health support; employability upskilling; how to avoid payday loans (loan sharks) and cost of living scams.
- Offering specialist energy advice and new ‘Warm and Well’ packs in partnership with National Energy Action to help keep customers warm, safe and well this winter.
- Making extra provision for an increased demand on our mental health support services, which saw a 42% increase in referrals over the pandemic and helped 1,400 customers improve their mental wellbeing.
- Launching Skillzminer (an employability and skills portal) on the Orbit Customer Hub to help people increase their skills and job quality, leading to financial stability and a move into higher paid roles to keep up with the rising cost of living
- Working customers to test a new package of grants for essentials such as furniture, furnishings, digital connectivity and household appliances, to help bring them out of furniture poverty and support energy efficiency
- Working with the NHS to bring their free smoking cessation service direct to our customers in an effort to support people to reduce their spend on smoking and with added health benefits too.