2 April 2020: Flexible payment plan launched in response to the coronavirus pandemic

Leading national housing provider, Stonewater, has announced new flexible payment arrangements to support those customers who are experiencing financial hardship as a direct result of the current coronavirus outbreak.

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The new flexible payment arrangements will be agreed on an individual basis and will initially be in place for a minimum of three months. All customers will be able to review their payment arrangements halfway through, to check there haven’t been any further changes to their circumstances.

Towards the end of the three-month period customers will be asked to make their final payment, or where necessary, collection of any outstanding debt will be agreed over a further affordable period.

Stonewater Income Team colleagues, supported by other colleagues deployed from around the business, have started contacting customers at higher risk of financial hardship. They will review current changes to their financial circumstances and discuss the new flexible payment options available. This is just one of the new measures in place to support customers to remain in their homes during the coronavirus pandemic.

Sue Shirt, Executive Director – Customer Experience at Stonewater, said: “We are acutely aware that some people are likely to be affected financially more than others during the coronavirus outbreak, especially those who are self-employed or on zero-hours contracts. It is vital that we play our part in making sure we do all we can to support our customers at this very worrying time.

“The new flexible payment plans we have launched will give our customers the opportunity to proactively manage their finances over the coming months, in a long-term affordable way. We have responded to the immediate difficulties faced by many of our customers who are waiting for government support to be in place, without simply seeing our customers build up debt that won’t be affordable once they are in receipt of payments due.”

Flexible payment arrangements will be available to customers where rent costs are more than 30% of revised total household income.

For those customers who are waiting to access benefits as a result of a claim for Universal Credit or Statutory Sick Pay or those accessing the Job Retention Scheme, options will also include a deferred payment scheme. Shared ownership customers will also be eligible for the scheme.

Support for customers following the Government’s decision to suspend any new evictions during the next undoubtedly unprecedented three-months was welcomed. But, Stonewater’s board has pledged to go further by also suspending any debt-related tenancy enforcement action during this period.

Work is also underway with Stonewater’s charity partner the Longleigh Foundation to offer individual hardship grants to those most in need, financed by £400k of Stonewater’s 2020/21 grant to the charity.