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Dumfries and Galloway Housing Partnership (DGHP), as part of Wheatley Group, helped tenants in Dumfries and Galloway access almost £1.5million in unclaimed welfare benefits.

More than 750 tenants from across Dumfries and Galloway received the help from DGHP’s free benefit advice service.

Wheatley Group, Scotland’s leading housing, care and property-management group provides the free service to ensure all tenants are getting every penny they are entitled to.

Tenants are also given support with filling in forms as well as with helping to overturn decisions taken by the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP).

In 2020, as the pandemic hit communities hard, DGHP helped 755 tenants access £1,493,227 in previously unclaimed financial support.

Across the whole of Wheatley Group’s six housing associations (including DGHP) a total of £9,391,000 was accessed for 20,244 tenants.

At DGHP, this figure of almost £1.5million included –

  • £843,585 in additional Universal Credit payments;
  • £173,171 in extra Personal Independence Payments; and
  • £104,614 in Housing Benefit/Local Housing Allowance.

DGHP tenant Nicola, 39, from Dumfries, struggled after being affected by the benefit cap due to a sudden change in family circumstances.

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Fiona Thomson, Universal Credit and Welfare Benefits Advisor

Nicola, who has been supported by DGHP’s Fiona Thomson, Universal Credit and Welfare Benefits Advisor, said: “After the benefit cap kicked in, something I’ve been affected by on and off for a few years now, I was left with very little money to survive on. With five kids it was really hard and I was struggling.

“My housing officer referred me to Fiona who has just been fantastic. She has gone above and beyond for me and my family and, thanks to the support and help, we are now in a much better place and have enough money to budget.

“I have received more help than I ever thought possible and I can’t thank Fiona and DGHP enough. I now have the confidence to know that if I am in difficulty I can pick up the phone to DGHP and receive the help I need.

“If any DGHP tenant is struggling – whether that’s with forms or if they are unsure about what they are entitled to – I would urge them to get in touch. Don’t be afraid to pick up the phone, they are there to help you.”

Matt Foreman, DGHP’s Managing Director, said: “The welfare benefits system is complex and, at times, difficult to navigate. Our staff are here to help and can guide customers through the maze of benefits and find out what support they are entitled to.

“We have dedicated staff on hand to help our customers claim all the benefits they are entitled to and, for many, this can be life-changing. If anyone is struggling we would encourage them to contact us.” 

DGHP can also offer additional support for customers, including help with fuel advice, EatWell food vouchers as well as an emergency response fund to help with essential items.

Tenants who want to book an online or telephone appointment with a welfare benefit advisor should speak to their housing officer. 

A DGHP tenant who has received a lot of support and help from her housing officer is Diana, from Wigtownshire.

She said: “I found myself in real difficulty last year when I changed jobs, due to my health, and ended up in catering. However, due to lockdown, I’ve not been able to work and I’ve been struggling. I also lost a large sum of money over Christmas while out shopping and it’s been so difficult.

“No one has ever shown me kindness like I’ve been shown by DGHP and my Housing Officer. The help I’ve had is just incredible and I thank them from the bottom of my heart.”

Diana said she would encourage others to ask for help from DGHP: “There is no point suffering in silence, if you are in difficulty you should ask for help as the help is out there.”

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