We all know that everything has become a lot more expensive over recent months and that budgeting for our day-to-day essentials is becoming harder.

If I may give everyone just one piece of advice, it would be to claim what you are entitled to claim.

Our Rent Support Team at Merthyr Valleys Homes work incredibly hard to maximise benefits for our tenants and last year they increased the amount our tenants were claiming by almost £1m. It always astonishes me how much unclaimed benefit there is and it also saddens me to know this when so many people could do with that extra money.

Those most at risk of under-claiming benefits are pensioners. It is always worth double-checking. There are lots of ways to access support e.g. your Housing Association; local authority or Citizens Advice Bureau are amongst some of the organisations who can help you.

Most Housing Associations either have small funds to help tenants with rent arrears or they can help tenants access funds from other sources. Merthyr Valleys Homes’ Resilience Fund has helped over 150 households with their rent arrears over the past 2 years. Speak to your landlord or Citizens Advice Bureau, the more you engage, the more support you’ll get.

Hopefully you have all started to receive some support in paying your energy bills. However, if you are concerned about paying your gas, electricity or water bills please seek help. You should always speak to your energy provider first to find solutions.

At Merthyr Valleys Homes we are committed to our tenants and colleagues’ financial well-being. We were an early adopter of Living Rent in April 2018 and since then we have been very pro-active to ensure that our rents are no more than 28% of average earnings in Merthyr Tydfil. Affordability is very important to the Social Housing Sector in Wales and we are determined to work with our tenants to set fair rents each year.

The pandemic brought us closer to our amazing local community groups and charities who have supported our communities through some very bleak times. Merthyr Valleys Homes is so pleased to work alongside these groups, providing space and resources to help them deliver much needed services in our communities.

You may have heard that Merthyr Valleys Homes has participated in 4 Day Global’s pilot project. Since early June we have been trialling a 4 day week. This should mean more efficient ways of working and should save our colleagues both time and money, commuting one day less and using 20% less energy. We are about to decide what happens next with this, so watch this space.

Communication is key. Talk to your landlord, your energy provider, Citizens Advice Bureau, they will all be able to offer support or advice.