Free advice offered for housing woes

Alison Winfield is offering free advice on housing issues in Ilkeston's DHA training and advice centre on Bath Street ilkeston.
Alison Winfield is offering free advice on housing issues in Ilkeston's DHA training and advice centre on Bath Street ilkeston.

Whether Government changes to benefits are for better or worse, they have left many recipients confused and concerned for the future.

But, thanks to a recent Legal Aid grant, an Ilkeston charity is now on hand to give free advice to townsfolk facing difficult economic times.

Direct Help and Advice (DHA) – previously Derbyshire Housing Aid – has used the cash boost to enable solicitor Alison Winfield to offer free help with preventing mortgage or rental possession and other housing-related problems.

Alison, who is available at the charity’s Bath Street base every Wednesday, said: “High quality legal advice lies at the core of our service.

“Seeking professional help early is key when facing housing problems – if things are left until they reach a crisis point, then it becomes harder to stop evictions going ahead”.

She added that the ‘bedroom tax’ – introduced in April to cut the amount of benefit people get if they have a spare bedroom in their housing association home – is a common problem in this area.

Kath Jackson, DHA’s centre manager, said: “With over 25,000 individuals and families suffering from housing problems and homelessness in Derbyshire alone, the service is vital for anyone in the community who needs professional help.

“We are finding more and more people coming to us as the numbers of people out of work continues to rise, in an area that has one of the highest unemployment rates in the country.

“I would urge anyone affected by the bedroom tax or with housing concerns to get in touch as a matter of urgency to make an appointment.”

Assistance on issues, including homelessness, re-housing, rent arrears or illegal eviction matters, including representation at court hearings and anti-social-behaviour orders are on offer.

The charity has won a further £1,000 from Erewash Borough Council so that up to five families who are not eligible for free advice under Legal Aid guidelines can still be helped.

Call 0115 930 0199 to book a confidential appointment.