New finance chief aims to support tenants through changes to Universal Credit Wednesday 24 June 2015

The newly appointed head of finance at Grŵp Cynefin will work with the company’s housing and communities team to manage the impact of the incoming Universal Credit.

New finance chief aims to support tenants through changes to Universal Credit

Chartered accountant Nia Rhian Owen will have responsibility for leading Grŵp Cynefin’s finance team, overseeing the management of accounts and meeting the housing association’s statutory financial requirements.

One of her first tasks is to work with Grŵp Cynefin’s housing team to help tenants manage rent payments, which as part of the Universal Credit will soon start being paid to tenants instead of direct to housing association landlords.

Deganwy resident Nia previously held the position of business and finance director for Galeri Caernarfon, which holds a significant property portfolio in Caernarfon.

Nia said: “One of the prominent issues facing the housing sector is the changes introduced through Universal Credit, which has a huge impact on housing associations and tenants.

“Some of our tenants receive housing benefit towards their rent costs, those payments are currently paid directly to housing associations by the local councils. Under the new proposals, these benefits will be paid directly to the tenant who will therefore be responsible for ensuring that their rent is paid to their landlord. Universal Credit has the potential to be one of the biggest threats to landlord income.

“Grŵp Cynefin aims to minimise this risk by supporting tenants through the transition. This includes giving budgetary advice where necessary, stressing the importance of paying rent upfront, being vigilant in monitoring debtors, giving the option to pay by direct debit, and to form a close relationship with the Alternative Payment Arrangement Teams within the local councils.”

Grŵp Cynefin, which recently celebrated the first anniversary of its formation, has a section of its website dedicated to changes to the benefits system in Wales, where tenants can visit to find more information on how changes will affect them.

“One of my early projects will also be to assess the variations in the pre-existing companyies’s procedures and policies and evaluate their efficiency.”

Walis George, chief executive of Grŵp Cynefin, said: “I’m delighted to welcome Nia to Grŵp Cynefin, and am pleased to see she’s already made a positive impact on the group in the short time she’s been with us.”

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