Call for more support as social housing tenants lose fridges and furniture in rental scheme axe

Items, including white goods, now need to be returned as the rental scheme ends.
Items, including white goods, now need to be returned as the rental scheme ends.

Council bosses in South Tyneside ar being urged to do more to help hundreds of tenants affected by the axe of a white goods rental scheme.

South Tyneside Council is set to offer financial advice to those hit by the impending closure of the Furnished Tenancy Scheme (FTS) which supported tenants who were moving into their new homes but couldn’t afford items like sofas, beds, fridges and washing machines.

The programme saw residents pay a weekly charge for the goods.

But the scheme is now being wound down after the initiative - which was run through Your Homes Newcastle - was reviewed and new tenants were no longer allowed to rent a furniture pack because of changes to the benefits system.

Council bosses in the borough say that they plan to work with tenants to increase “financial inclusion” so that tenants are encouraged to save and be advised of lower cost credit options.

But Coun Lee Hughes, a Putting People First representative, says the council should support tenants by offering to provide a new package. He said: “People shouldn’t be in this situation in the first place.
“I think tenants should be offered the option to buy the goods outright if they can afford it.

“If they can’t, I think the easiest support that the council could offer them is by buying some of the white goods and working out a package for tenants to rent them, with the idea being that they own it at the end.”

Gazette readers also have reservations about the rental programme coming to an end

Patricia McMahon Maher said: “If they have paid more for them than what they cost to buy, why are they not being allowed to keep them? 
“It will cost more to collect and dispose of them and cause people to get into debt they don’t need to be in.”
Danielle Hannard added: “We should be able to just keep them for all our rental costs we paid over the years.

“I have to give quite a lot back and I’ve been told I don’t qualify for any extra help to replace some of them because I don’t get the benefits stated.”

Tenants claiming JSA, ESA, Income Support or Pension Credits, support may be available to help replace some white goods and furniture through the Local Welfare.

For this support they must apply through a Community Care Support application form, which is available at any South Tyneside Homes housing office.