Partnership advice project helps tenants save over £1.4m

Money mattersA Castle Rock Edinvar money advice project, set up with partners Citizens Advice Edinburgh, and fellow housing associations Dunedin Canmore, Blackwood, Hillcrest and Port of Leith, has helped tenants save over £1.4 million worth of debt.

Funded by The Big Lottery, the Money Matters Project was created so that the housing associations could deliver comprehensive money advice directly to tenants within Edinburgh through specialist Money Advice workers from Citizens Advice.

Running from 2013 until end of March this year, Castle Rock Edinvar’s Money Advice Worker received almost 300 referrals with a total tenant debt of over £1 million. By negotiating with creditors, providing tenants with advice on opening bank and savings accounts, moving to more affordable loans and switching to better utility deals, our tenants saved almost £400,000 throughout the course of the project.

Castle Rock Edinvar tenant, Hilda, got in touch with the Money Matters Project after having to default on a loan after family circumstances changed for the worse. She had a total of £14,000 worth of debt including rent, loans and arrears of Council Tax and she had previously been bankrupt.

After working through Hilda’s spending habits and prioritising her debts, the Money Advice Worker negotiated an affordable payment plan with the creditors and assisted Hilda with claiming housing benefit, council tax reduction and Job Seekers Allowance.

However, Hilda did not commit to the payments and after a few months her financial situation became even more chaotic, leading to the Money Advice Worker to renegotiate Hilda’s payment plan. Hilda started to engage more with the Money Advice Worker and made payments to all her creditors and maintained them.

Working with the Money Matters Project for 19 months, Hilda now has a completely different attitude towards managing her money, including opening a savings account, and is committed to managing her budget.

Caroline Keir, financial inclusion manager, said: “The Money Matters Project has truly made a positive and significant difference to the lives of so many of our customers and to those struggling with debt in Edinburgh. The partners forged a really effective service valued by all who have needed help.”

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