Effect on our services & advice for residents Coronavirus update

A day in the life of a Benefit & Welfare Officer

Our Benefit and Welfare Officers help our residents with all things money-related, which means free financial advice and support is always available for those who need it.

Discover what it's like to be part of our Money Advice team

Our Benefit and Welfare Officers offer free money advice to our residents in everything from budgeting to benefits. This enables us to help our tenants to receive all the financial support they’re entitled to and hopefully clear their debts.

Mark is based in our Dorchester office and, prior to the pandemic, he would spend his week calling and visiting residents in the south west of England. Whilst working from home, Mark has had to find new ways to communicate with the residents who would’ve normally had face-to-face visits, and ensure they continue to receive all the right benefits during this challenging time. Here, we walk through what a typical day for him is currently like. 

9:00am: Mark starts his day by checking his inbox. Email has become the primary way he communicates with residents, so Mark typically spends the first hour of the morning replying to their questions and queries.

10:00am: He then starts work on any resident referrals that have been sent over. Referrals are made by our Area Housing Managers for residents who they think may need more assistance with benefits or money advice. He says:

I constantly have to prioritise referrals and queries from residents, identifying which cases are most critical and where the residents are in a financial situation that means they may not be able to pay their rent.”

11:30am: Next, Mark goes over his notes and updates his files about any further actions that are needed to help the residents who have been referred – the majority of which involve benefit claims. As well as supporting with benefit applications, Mark helps with a range of different financial issues, including budgeting and assessing finances and outgoings. But he finds that many of our residents are reluctant to talk about their spending. He says:

I would like to see money advice on the school curriculum so that people get used to talking about it and it no longer feels taboo.”

2:00pm: After lunch Mark spends some time researching any benefit changes that could impact our residents. He adds his findings to his current notes on benefits and money advice, saying:

“It’s really important that my information about benefits is up-to-date, so I can give the best advice to our residents. It’s even more essential at the moment that I’m aware of any changes because it’s the start of a new financial year, which means many adjustments to the benefits system!”

3:30pm: Mark finds the best time to contact residents is nearer the end of the working day, and so he spends the rest of the afternoon making calls to provide support, offer advice and answer any questions they may have. This often involves helping residents to complete Discretionary Housing Payment applications, which is money local authorities can give out to help those in difficult situations.

For Mark, speaking to and helping residents is what he finds most rewarding about his role. Here he tells us about his proudest moment at Hastoe:

Last year I was able to help a resident claim a backdated payment of their benefits which amounted to £16,000. It was a substantial amount that will really benefit their wellbeing and way of life.”

But even if Mark can only help our residents in a small way, it still gives him the sense of being able to make a positive difference to those who need it. He knows that even something small can make a monumental difference to our residents’ lives.

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