Freebridge Reiterates Commitment to Supporting its Customers
Freebridge Community Housing is reiterating its commitment to providing financial assistance, advice, and guidance to its customers, including through a bigger Tenancy Support Fund.
The commitment comes as west Norfolk’s biggest housing provider writes to its customers to update them on this year’s rent increase which, in light of rising costs and other financial demands, will be 4.1%.
In arriving at the figure, Freebridge follows – as it does every year - the government’s rent setting policy, and, the association is not alone in reaching this amount, with many social landlords across the country announcing the same rise.
The figure for this year’s increase has been informed by Freebridge’s own rising costs, with the association now incurring an increase of between 10% and 15% for routine maintenance, improvement programmes, and building new homes.
And, it comes as Freebridge is investing millions in improving its repairs service, making improvements to existing homes and communities, bringing in improvements in safety standards and building new affordable homes through its five-year strategic plan. The plan has the aim of building better futures for its customers and west Norfolk, and delivers key strategic priorities identified for customers.
The rent increase was arrived at after careful consideration by the board and with input from Freebridge’s Tenant Panel and Customer Service Committee who gave their opinion, challenge, guidance, and support.
In spite of the increase, Freebridge continues to have some of the lowest rents in west Norfolk but Chief Executive Anita Jones explained that she recognises the climate within which the rise has been announced. She said: “We know this is a challenging time for everyone which is why we are absolutely committed to providing our tenants with financial support, advice, and guidance, however we can.
“Not only are we increasing our Tenancy Support Fund – which is there to help our customers who need it – we are also helping our customers access all the benefits they are entitled to, signposting them to other agencies who can help, and developing partnerships with organisations who can also help our customers.
“All of the Freebridge team is here to help. So to any customer who is struggling, I would urge them to please reach out to us. We do understand and we’re here to help.”
Andy Walder, Chair of the Freebridge Board explained that arriving at this year’s rent increase was a difficult decision, but one that had been made after careful consideration. He said: “Like all housing associations, we follow the government’s model for setting our rents, and this year, we have also taken into account our own rising costs. We, like everyone else, have seen the prices that we pay increase.
“We’ve also had to factor in the significant investment that we are making in existing and new homes, and within communities, to benefit our customers and wider west Norfolk.
“As Anita has emphasised, our caring team of staff are here to help anyone who needs it. So please do get in touch.”
Customers can visit Freebridge's website, Facebook page for information or call 03332 404 444.