Fifers struggling with rent arrears, debt and issues with accessing benefits due to changes in welfare reform are being given help through the launch of a new service.
Wise2Welfare is a specialist multi-agency team which has been recently launched to support people with housing and debt difficulties which have arisen as a direct result of welfare reform, such as the bedroom tax.
The new service is being delivered by the Fife Advice Partnership which includes: Frontline Fife, CARF (Citizens Advice and Rights Fife), Fife Council, Fife Law Centre, Fife Rights Forum, Fife Migrants Forum and the Fife Housing Association Alliance.
The project, funded by the Scottish Legal Aid Board, brings together these key agencies so they can offer people help in one step.
Rebecca Haack, business development manager, Frontline Fife – which works with people who are experiencing homelessness – said: “The Partnership brings these key agencies in Fife together so we can offer an integrated approach.
“For example, we can provide a support package on a range of issues as the person may be struggling with rent arrears because of the extra cost of the so called bedroom tax, they may also have debt problems through changes to the benefit system, they may have had their benefits sanctioned and/or their tenancy may be under threat.
“They may need advice from more than one agency so together we can offer housing, money and legal advice or representation at benefit tribunals through one process – tailor-made to that person’s particular circumstances.”
Ann McManus, who has been newly appointed as a Wise2Welfare co-ordinator, said people may also have had their benefits stopped due to changes in claiming Job Seeker’s Allowance.
She said people now have to claim online and many might not have access to computers to fill out forms or to carry out job searches.
She said: “We can assist people with this process and also provide help to access training and employment opportunities.” Funding has been provided until March 2015. Anyone needing help can email: firstname.lastname@example.org or call 07738 489863.