Hundreds of tenants told to give back fridges and furniture as rental scheme axed

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.
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Hundreds of tenents in South Tyneside could be left without furniture and white goods because a rental scheme is being axed.

South Tyneside Homes (STH) introduced a Furnished Tenancy Scheme (FTS) in 2009 to support tenants who were moving into their new homes but couldn’t afford items like sofas, beds, fridges and washing machines.

Coun Lee Hughes

Coun Lee Hughes

At it’s peak 1,478 people took part in the programme - which saw residents pay a weekly service charge, or those who were eligible, would have their benefits meet the cost.

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.

There are currently 1,000 people in the South Tyneside renting the packs - which they must now return by the end of the year.

Coun Ed Malcolm, chair of South Tyneside Homes board, said: “Due to Government changes in the benefit system the FTS is now outdated and does not work for the majority of our tenants.

“We are appealing to tenants to come forward and work with us so we can secure an alternative for them that both meets their needs and is affordable given the changes in financial circumstances.

“We have been contacting tenants direct for a number of months now and would urge anyone who has not come forward to do so well ahead of the December deadline.”

The aim of the scheme was to prevent the need for tenants resorting to very high cost credit options - such as weekly payment stores, doorstep lenders or loan sharks.

Coun Lee Hughes, a Putting People First representative, is worried some tenants are going to be left without essential goods.

He said: “In some cases we will have people who have paid thousands of pounds in rental fees over the years for items which aren’t even worth that.

“Now they have to hand them back and source news ones.

“This is very worrying. Some people may be left with nothing.”

Tenants claiming JSA, ESA, Income Support or Pension Credits, support may be available for help in replacing items.

They must apply for this additional support through a Community Care Support application form which are available at any South Tyneside Homes housing office.