This is a quick response from Housing lead on Southampton City Council –
she will be responding more fully – action on evictions:
- Suspended all debt recovery during lockdown 1 when there was so much uncertainty around Government support and delays to UC.
- We are contacting all our tenants to ensure those entitled to Discretionary Housing Payments are getting DHP, along with support with benefits to make sure they are claiming for everything they should be.
- We have set up a citywide joint working group with frontline services, including local charities and advice services, to make sure no one is falling through the gaps. If a group are, we are working on what we can do together to try and mitigate impact for them.
- Any debt policy is being co-design with local charities and advice services.
- We are taking a more bespoke approach to debt and people’s needs, looking at an individual and what support they may need holistically (broader than just debt they may owe).
- Rather than just letters, which can get confusing and scare people, based on advice from local charities, we have also increased use of phone, email and additional stages in the process to allow more time for the individual to get back on track.
- As well as continuing to negotiate payment arrangements, we have also increased our use of alternative payment arrangements to support tenants.
- We have set up an Arrears Review Panel, to ensure there are far more checks and balances and offer to support, before taking any further action.