Help with household budgeting, benefits and bank accounts is being offered to housing association tenants in the Borders.
Berwickshire Housing Association Ltd has been given £568,213 from the National Lottery’s Investing in Communities fund to help build the financial skills of tenants unable to access mainstream financial products and services such as bank accounts or benefit entitlements.
The ‘Financial Inclusion Project Borders’ will work across the Borders, BHA working in partnership with Waverley Housing Association and Scottish Borders Housing Association who will refer tenants on to the programme.
Each person will receive tailored, one to one support from a financial capability worker, followed by a personal action plan to help them with household budgeting, affordable credit and energy suppliers.
Berwickshire Housing Association’s customer services director, Jean Gray, said, “This is fantastic news for the Borders.
“We now have the opportunity to help people who are financially excluded and struggling to cope with the changing environment. This project will enable us to help them to cope with these changes.
“Working in a rural area where people experiencing poverty are often in isolated settlements, we need to reach out to those most affected as transport is a major challenge for those families.
“This project, working across three housing associations, offers us the opportunity to work together and learn from each other as well as reaching out to our tenants in all parts of the Scottish Borders.
“We are finding that people are suffering real poverty. We have more tenants accessing food banks than ever before.
“There is no doubt that Welfare Reform has had an impact.
“We already have finance people in place with heavy case loads because there are so many people crying out for help. This funding means we can employ more case workers.”
Maureen McGinn, Big Lottery Fund Scotland chair, said: “The award is an important example of how our funding can support people at key times of change in their lives and it’s important that this vital work continues.”