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Maria is feeling ready for Universal Credit – are you?

There are a number of ways you can prepare for Universal Credit. Being prepared now will make the change easier, and our Welfare Advisors are here to help.

One of our residents, Maria, has already started planning for Universal Credit.

Looking at her circumstances, she is aware her benefits will change in September 2018 when her son starts school.

Rent First
She is topping up her rent account with £2 a week using her Allpay card to ensure her home will be protected. Continue reading

Universal Credit is here!

If you receive any of the following benefits, you will be going onto Universal Credit:

  • Job Seekers Allowance (income related)
  • Employment Support Allowance (income related)
  • Income Support
  • Housing Benefit
  • Working Tax Credit
  • Child Tax Credit

Roll out

Universal Credit is already live in Cornwall and the Full Digital Service is being rolled out from this December, starting with Liskeard, Launceston and Bude.

There have been some changes to the roll out dates:

May 2018 (was Feb) – St. Austell, Newquay, Bodmin and Truro

June 2018 (was March) – Penzance, Helston, Bodmin and Penryn. Continue reading

Countdown to Universal Credit

From December 2017, Universal Credit will be phased in, affecting residents in Cornwall.

….It is not a choice.

….You will have to switch.

But don’t worry help is at hand!

 

What is Universal Credit?

  • It’s the new way that welfare benefits are going to be paid.
  • All benefits will be rolled into one and paid to you once a month.
  • There can be a delay of up to 6 weeks whilst the changeover of Universal Credit takes place, during which you may get no money.

We have therefore put together this simple flowchart to help you understand.


Flowchart

Take it step by step:

Step 1 – Are you of Working Age?

Yes – go to 2
No – Universal Credit should not affect you


 

Step 2 – Do you receive one or more of the following six benefits?

  • Housing Benefit
  • Income Support
  • Working Tax Credits
  • Child Tax Credits
  • ESA (income related)
  • JSA (income related)

Yes – go to 3
No – Universal Credit should not affect you


Step 3 – Are you able to access the Internet?

Yes – go to 4
No – Ocean can help by offering advice. Continue to 4 and contact Ocean at the end.


 

Step 4 – Can you cope with 1 large monthly payment coming in?

Yes – go to 5
No – Ocean can help by offering advice. Continue to 5 and contact Ocean at the end.


 

Step 5 – Do you have a bank account?

Yes – Great you are almost ready! Go to 6!
No – You will need a bank account so that your Universal Credit can be paid. Continue to 6 and remember to set up a bank account when you have finished reading this.


 

Step 6 – Don’t delay, prepare today!

  1. Make extra payments to your rent (eg. set up a Hi-£5 buffer account)
  2. Top up your prepayment card for gas/electric or switch to direct debit to spread the costs
  3. Seek help budgeting – Contact Citizen’s Advice Bureau (CAB) or Ocean’s Customer Accounts Team
  4. Use a savings card or stamps for food

 

Find out more about Universal Credit:

 

Milk of Human Kindness flows at Ocean

Ocean has trebled its in-house collections for the local food bank, in response to growing demand for the service, which supplies food parcels to local families in need.

Missing those free school dinners

As the school holidays get underway, parents on a tight budget are having to make funds stretch even further, explained Ocean Housing’s Welfare Advisor Gemma Aldin:

Children who would normally enjoy a free hot school dinner in term-time will of course need to eat at home in the holidays, which often puts parents under extra pressure financially.

This in turn increases demand at the local food banks, with the St Austell branch reporting shortages of larder essentials that many of us take for granted, such as instant mashed potato, pasta sauce, long life milk and fruit juice.

Last year St Austell Food Bank supplied food parcels for 2,617 people, 890 of which were children.

Human Kindness

I wanted to find a simple way for us all to help,” added Susan McKnight, Ocean’s New Tenant Support Adviser, who began co-ordinating the collections at Ocean in 2015, which to date have raised over 200 kilos of shopping for the food bank.

Donate

Ocean can be contacted by emailing help@oceanhousing.com.

To donate or volunteer at St Austell Food Bank, you can call 01726 65313 or message info@staustell.foodbank.org.uk.

 

SMART Advice

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We understand how tough it can be when you have money worries, especially if you are struggling to find a job. That’s why Susan, who was previously part of our Welfare Advice Team, is now working on a new SMART Tenant Project:

“I am really excited about helping tenants in different ways – from sorting out money problems to finding employment.”

Sometimes it may be as simple as re-writing a CV, helping with a job application and practicing interview techniques.

“We may also be able to arrange for training that could help residents back into work and support with childcare during the training.”

The SMART project is for new tenants who are unemployed and have the right to live and work in the U.K.

If you are not a new tenant and you think you could benefit from this kind of support, Susan is still very keen to hear from you:

“Please contact me so we can talk about other ways of helping you.”

Susan is working on this project with an organisation called the Penwith Community Development Trust and it is funded by the European Social Fund.

Contact

Icon online form sml  Complete: Online Contact Form

Icon Email sml  Email:  help@oceanhousing.com

Icon Facebook sml  Ocean Housing Association

Icon phone sml  Tel: 01726 874450

Key Worker (Together for Families)

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**Job Alert**

Ocean Housing Group owns, manages and maintains around 4,500 residential properties throughout Cornwall.  It has a diverse range of activities within the three companies that make up the Ocean Group. 

Ocean Housing Ltd is looking to recruit a Key Worker to join their Neighbourhood Services team to deliver Cornwall Council’s ‘Together for Families’ (Multi-agency) Programme.

A new and exciting opportunity has arisen for a Key Worker to join our Neighbourhood Services team.   You will provide support to eligible families to improve their lives through the ‘Together for Families’ programme by leading on the delivery of the Programme to improve outcomes and reduce the risk of potential homelessness for families with complex needs across Cornwall.

Practical knowledge of and exceptional skills in providing personalised support to families who have complex needs is essential for this role, together with knowledge and understanding of safeguarding protocols and responsibilities for children and vulnerable adults and the ability to build effective relationships and trust.

In addition to having the ability to conduct yourself in a confident and professional manner to create a credible impression, you will demonstrate a commitment to equal opportunities and an understanding of the impact of deprivation and discrimination on local communities, families and individuals.

Substantial word processing and IT experience and good working knowledge of Microsoft Office applications is required, together with experience of managing caseloads and possession of good time management, organisational and administrative skills.

You will hold GCSE grade A-C in English and Maths or equivalent Level 2 qualification(s). Additionally you will be educated to A level standard or equivalent, or hold a level 3 qualification.

For more information regarding to specific responsibilities and knowledge and experience please refer to the Job Description and Person Specification.

Ocean is an equal opportunities employer and welcomes applications from all sections of the community.  

Hours

Full time (37 hours)

Fixed Term for 12 months

Application Deadline

Closing date: Tuesday, 8 August 2017

Interviews:  Tuesday, 22 August 2017

Salary

£23,555 per annum

About Us

Ocean Housing Group is a large, successful and expanding social enterprise in Cornwall, with a diverse range of activities within the four companies that make up the Ocean Group and owns, manages and maintains over 4,000 residential properties throughout Cornwall.

Ocean Housing provide social and affordable housing, we believe affordable housing is not just about the buildings, but about the people who turn them into homes.

Gilbert & Goode is one of the largest Cornish construction companies and delivers a range of construction services from major new build projects to refurbishment and maintenance works.

Information

For more details, please download the Job Description and Person Specification below or contact Ocean Group’s HR department.

Contact: Heather Taylor (HR Co-ordinator)
Email: jobs@oceanhousing.com
Tel: 01726 874450
Website: http://www.oceanhousing.com/
Twitter: @Ocean_Housing #jobs
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/ocean-housing-group-ltd

Downloads

Job Description (click here)

Person Specification (click here)

Application

To Apply, please download and complete both parts of the Application Form below and email them to jobs@oceanhousing.com for the attention of Heather Taylor.

Universal Credit Workshops

Universal Credit is the new benefit replacing six work related benefits, including Housing Benefit. One single monthly payment will be paid in arrears direct into your bank account.

This means you will be responsible for paying your rent from your Universal Credit payment.

Some people have already transferred to this new benefit and depending on your situation you could be told you are moving over to Universal Credit at any time.

UC-could-you-survive-poster-3

Big changes

It will mean a big change so let’s prepare for the switchover!

UC its as easy as ABC Make sure you have a suitable bank account

Sliders UC talk to us Talk to our Customer Accounts Team or Welfare Advice Team about the best way of paying your rent

 Check out the Universal Credit section of our website especially the Universal Credit Survival Guide

Sliders UC making a claim Brush up on your digital skills as applications for Universal Credit have to be made online.

Universal Credit Workshops

Ocean’s Welfare Advice Team is offering Universal Credit Workshops to help you prepare.

Check our Events Calendar for details of upcoming workshops near you or contact the Welfare Advice Team

Icon phone smlTel 01726 874450

Icon online form sml Talk to us

Icon online form sml Universal Credit

 

#HousingDay 2016 ‘Fresh Start’

Today, we’ve been celebrating #HousingDay on social media to try and raise awareness of the positive impact the Housing Sector has on people’s lives.

One of our Customer Accounts Advisors has put into words how she feels about her work:

melody-boyce“People often think of social housing as cheap housing for people who can’t afford the private sector.

What is missing from that is the tremendous amount of support that we offer to people to make their tenancy a success.

One of the aspects I find most satisfying is helping people through their first tenancy or with a fresh start. They may be walking away from abuse or just starting up and it can be terrifying. You don’t get that support in the private sector and seeing tenants grow and become happy in their new home is fantastic.

I am very lucky to meet people before they become Ocean tenants and work with them throughout the first few months of their tenancy helping with things like Housing Benefit, Universal Credit, benefits generally and budgeting.

Giving people the tools to turn their lives around and become independent is immensely satisfying and its lovely to speak to people a few weeks into their tenancy and hear that just having a new home has made all the difference.”

Thank you, Melody!

Budgeting Ahead

Banner Monthly Budget GC

The kids are back at school and Christmas will soon be upon us so now is an excellent time to review your finances and look at how to budget ahead more effectively.

One important part of budgeting is to ensure that your priority debts are paid on time.

Maintaining your rent payments is an essential part of managing your finances and helping you budget. Once these payments are made then it is easier to understand what money you have left over each month for your other outgoings.

To make things a little easier for you, we’ve put together a helpful guide listing ‘Ways to Pay’ – this will help you identify the best way for you to take control of your finances and make budgeting a little easier.

Click on it to enlarge.

payment-methods-pros-cons-v3

Autumn Preparations

Before Autumn turns into Winter, let’s work together to maintain your home and prevent putting your own health and home at risk. There are lots of things to do …before the weather turns nasty on us, not once it is here!

gas servicing 2011 72dpi

Heating

Saving you ££

Visit our Heating page or talk to our Energy Advisors about saving yourself money and spreading the cost of heating your home this winter.

Efficient heating

Watch the video to understand how to set your heating system to work efficiently.

Servicing your system

Our planned maintenance team have a schedule of works to service heating systems that Ocean has installed. Please make sure you give them access to undertake this service, when they contact you.

 


Steam shower mirror more blue

Condensation

Underheating and lack of ventilation in your home during cold and damp spells results in condensation.

Don’t fall into the trap – turning off your heating is a false economy and can put your health & home at risk.

Follow our helpful tips to avoid a build up of condensation and moisture in your home.

Consider switching energy supplier to reduce your heating costs or spreading the costs over regular monthly Direct Debit payments.

 


gsw-hero

Gas Safety Week 2017

It’s Gas Safety Week 18 -24th September – fighting for a gas safe nation!

Ocean carries out annual gas checks on gas appliances that we have installed. You will be notified when you are due a check. Please make sure you give us access to maintain your system to avoid putting your health & home at risk.

If Ocean did not install your appliance – ALWAYS USE A GAS SAFE REGISTERED ENGINEER.

 


Banner Health & Safety SH

Smoke Alarm Testing

Ocean carries out annual checks on your Smoke Alarm.

You will be notified when you are due a check. Please make sure you give us access to maintain your system to avoid putting your health & home at risk.

 


Unblocking gutter drain

Blocked Gutters

Wind + Rain + Autumn Leaves = Blocked and dripping gutters

Let’s work together to prevent damp patches appearing due to drips and leaks.

Read our Blocked Gutters article and take action!

Income Management Team – What’s changing?

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Here at Ocean we pride ourselves on delivering excellent customer service and one of the teams currently doing this is our Income Management Team.

They work with our customers:

Allpay-Ocean-Payment-card-houses-icon to provide help and support when they encounter financial difficulties

Allpay-Ocean-Payment-card-houses-icon identifying additional benefits that they may be entitled to

Allpay-Ocean-Payment-card-houses-icon referring to support agencies

Allpay-Ocean-Payment-card-houses-icon working with them to help get them back on track with their rental payments.

Allpay-Ocean-Payment-card-houses-banner

So what is changing?

The team are fundamentally staying the same however; there has been a change to the team name and role titles.

“Our customers are important to us and are at the centre of everything we do, we feel that the new team name and team titles better reflect what we do”

The team’s new name is the

Customer Accounts Team:

The team members are:

Customer Accounts Manager

Debbie Goodreid

Customer Accounts Advisors

Amy Coad

Kerry Smith

Loraine Hoar

Melody Boyce

Michelle Allen

Customer Accounts Assistant

Helen Bellamy

Home Ownership Advisor

Scott Burrows

Banner--Allpay-ref-SH

As well as helping customers when they are struggling to maintain their rent payments we are also responsible for all payments including:

  • Service charges, repair charges and other such charges
  • Garage and parking spaces
  • Shared Ownership
  • Leasehold payments
  • Freehold Properties &
  • Commercial Properties

Welfare-Team-June-2016

Did you know that we also have a Welfare Advice Team?

The Welfare Advice Team can help customers who are in receipt of Universal Credit or are affected by Bedroom Tax or Benefit Cap.

The Welfare Advice Team members are:

Welfare Advice Manager

Gill Barnard

Welfare Advisors

Gemma Aldin

Julie Cartlidge

Susan McKnight


Banner-My-Ocean-GC-sign-in-sign-up

My Ocean – our 24/7 service

At Ocean we are constantly developing new ways of being able to keep in touch with our customers.

Did you know that you can view your tenancy details on line 24 hours a day 7 days a week?

Once registered, you can log in to your secure ‘My Ocean’ account to view:

My Ocean – latest news & events
My Account – balance & transactions
My Repairs
My Planned Upgrades.

To register, just click:

My-Ocean-sign-in-sign-up


Talk to Us

You can also access information and help:

Icon online form sml Your Money general advice

Icon online form sml Talk to us

Icon Email sml Send an email 

Icon phone sml 01726 874450

 

 

 

 

My Ocean – FREE Prize Draw

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Banner-My-Ocean-GC-sign-in-sign-up
Every day, our Customer Services team receive calls from customers asking for their rent balance. Did you know you can check your rent balance online?

My Ocean – your personalised online service

My Ocean is a personalised online service – an area of our website where you can securely log in and view your balance and transactions from the last 3 months as well as your repairs and planned upgrades, 24/7, without having to wait in the phone queue!

Continue reading

Surviving Universal Credit and the Benefit Cap

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Welfare-Team-June-2016

When you sign up to Universal Credit or UC (the new single benefit payment where 6 benefits become 1) a single monthly payment is paid directly to you.

This means that you will have to manage your money from the moment it arrives in your bank account.

This also means you will need to pay your own rent out of the monthly lump sum you receive. This should be your number one priority; you don’t want to risk losing your home.

If the idea of managing your money feels daunting, don’t panic, help is at hand.

Welfare Advice Team

Our friendly and helpful Welfare Advice Team have been helping tenants get to grips with these upcoming changes to the benefits system and what they need to do to be prepared for Universal Credit and the lowered Benefits Cap.

 

It’s really important that you tell Ocean when you have or are going to sign up to Universal Credit.

Icon online form sml  Online Contact Form

Continue reading

New ALLPAY payment process

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Ocean rent payment card UPRN_Allpay_2

We are always looking for ways to improve our services to you, our customer. Ocean now has a new payment process for taking quicker, safer payments.

From 17th May, you will be asked to provide your Allpay card reference number when making a payment over the phone or in person. Please make sure you have the number ready.

Contact us if you do not have an Allpay card.

It might be easier to set up a Direct Debit so that you can manage your budget on a monthly basis.

Direct Debit

Download the Direct Debit form.

DD icon
Your rent for the whole year is added together and divided into 12 equal payments, which are collected automatically from your bank account on the first working day of the month.
Please complete the form and send it back to Ocean Housing.

Contact us

Icon Mobile Text sml Text 07971 834834

Text the word CARD – to order a replacement Allpay card.

Alternatively, please complete the online form below and we will order a new card.

Talk to Us

 

Please enter your details:

 

Please enter at least one of the following contact details:

 

Verification

 

 

Benefit rules are changing

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How Will Families Be Affected By April’s Benefit Changes?

Turn2Us FamilyBenefitsChanges_LeadThis month sees the start of changes to several welfare benefits.

Linda Gyamfi, Welfare Benefits Specialist at national charity Turn2us explains more about  some of these changes, what they mean for families, and where you can find support if you’re affected.

Changes include:

  • Freeze on working-age benefits
  • Tax credits income rise disregard
  • Universal Credit Work Allowance
  • Universal Credit – Childcare Costs element increased
  • Family Premium in Housing Benefit Abolished
  • Housing Benefit backdating
  • Support for Mortgage Interest waiting period
  • Benefit Cap Lowered  

To read the whole article and find out if it will affect you,

Icon online form sml CLICK HERE.

Icon online form sml About the changes to the Benefits Cap

EnergySW – reducing your energy bills

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Energysw-A5-flyer-FV-print2-nocropsOcean Housing wants to help you to reduce your bills.

We at Ocean Housing recognise from our discussions with customers that energy bills can be a significant household cost. To help customers reduce their bills we have worked with other landlords locally and with award winning OVO Energy to develop EnergySW, a new offering that could be cheaper for you and many of our customers.

EnergySW is a new energy brand, which has been designed with the aim of offering no-nonsense, competitively priced tariffs with excellent customer care for households in the South West of England.

If you pay for your bills monthly or by pre-payment meter, EnergySW could save you money.

You can get more information, a quote or switch by ringing EnergySW’s free phone line, or on the internet: Continue reading

Happy 3rd Birthday, Ladies!

welfare 3rd birthday sml

Congratulations and Happy 3rd Birthday to the lovely ladies of the Welfare Advice team!

The team was set up 3 years ago to work with individuals and their families – to find solutions to their problems, primarily triggered by Welfare Reform or the ‘Bedroom Tax’.

welfare team 3rd birthday sml

 

Welfare Thank you cards smlSome residents have been struggling or slipping through the ‘welfare’ net and the team have provided a personal service, working tirelessly to help them get back on track.

‘Thank you’!

On a regular basis, Gill, Gemma, Julie and Susan receive ‘thank you’ cards from residents who are so grateful for the help they have received to improve their personal circumstances.

Sliders Universal Credit its here are you ready?Universal Credit

There will be even greater challenges ahead for the team with the arrival of Universal Credit. This new Benefits System will affect far more people than with the introduction of Welfare Reform.

At the moment, very few people are aware of Universal Credit and how it will affect them. The team has their work cut out, explaining the changes, what needs to be done before claiming, how to claim and subsequently how to cope with the new single monthly payments.

At the end of this month, the Welfare Advice team will be joining forces with other Ocean staff to visit in person around 400 households expected to be most affected by Universal Credit.

 

Welfare Cake slice smlIf you would like to speak the Welfare Advice team or know someone affected by Welfare Reform or Universal Credit, please contact them:

Welfare Advice Team

for Benefits Advice

Icon phone sml  01726 874450

Icon online form sml  Complete: Online Contact Form

Icon Email sml  Email:  help@oceanhousing.com

It’s Your Money!

Your Money

Does any of this sound familiar?


Banner Your Money Pig SH 72dpi‘I could do with some tips on how to manage on a tight budget but don’t know where to start.’

Banner Your Money Pig SH 72dpi‘I really want to sort out my debt problems’

Banner Your Money Pig SH 72dpi‘What’s Universal Credit?’

These questions are all answered on our website.

Why not take up the challenge of reading and reviewing the ‘Your Money’ section of the website, so we get to hear what you think of our web pages while you learn all about managing your finances along the way.

Follow the instructions and complete our survey below to tell us truthfully what you think of the information we provide and whether you think it is useful and well presented.

Create your own user feedback survey

Less £ in Your Pocket

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less money in your pocketThe new government will be bringing in changes that will see families across Cornwall faced with new challenges.

These include:
• Cuts to benefits per household from £26,000 to £23,000
• Freezing working-age benefits, tax credits and child benefit for two years
• Removing automatic entitlement to housing support for 18-21 year olds

If you think you’ll be affected, contact our Welfare Advice Team

Icon Email sml help@oceanhousing.com

Icon phone sml 01726 874450

Cutting the Cost of Christmas

The cost of Christmas can be worrying, but you can still have a magical day without breaking the bank. Here are some classic ways to cut the cost of the big day:

Presents don’t have to be expensive – charity shops have some great pre-loved gifts.

Piggy bank expensive impulse

Or why not offer babysitting duties, your time could be the best gift.

Piggy bank self presents

Find gifts for the best price by shopping online.

Piggy bank online

Impulse Christmas shopping can really damage your wallet, so make a list and stick to it.

Piggy bank chops

Upcycle tired decorations, or make new ones from recycled items around the home.

Piggy bank presents

Piggy bank christmas lightsAt the end of the night, turn off your Christmas lights –it’s safe and can save you money too.

Save your Christmas cards and reuse them next year as gift tags.

Finally, as tempting as it may seem, avoid costly door step loans! They often come with high interest rates and unmanageable repayment plans.