With the cost-of-living crisis ongoing, government support ending in March and a variety of companies and councils revising their charges in April, join us for this timely event on financial hardship and find out what you can do to help plug the gap and support your tenants.

  • Read more

    Housing staff have always had the ability to step in with financial support for those tenants who find themselves in dire circumstances. The ongoing cost-of-living crisis coupled with rent increases has meant that more tenants require support than ever.

    However, with many council budgets stretched to the point of bankruptcy, the last cost of living payments to low-income households coming this month and the household support fund coming to an end in March, landlords must now rethink how they can best support those struggling most.

    Data from National Energy Action shows that as of October 2023, 6.5 million UK households were in fuel poverty, and according to research by Citizens Advice, 800,000 people went more than 24 hours without gas and electricity last year because they could not afford the rising costs.

    Those on the lowest incomes have been hard hit by inflation, with food and drink prices alone rising by 8% to the end of last year.

    These challenges are forcing landlords to re-evaluate their approach to addressing financial hardship, with a greater focus on proactive interventions.

    This event will explore the impacts of fuel poverty and the cost-of-living crisis, as well as the wide range of support services landlords are offering to residents.  Hear from expert speakers on approaches to preventing poverty and innovative best practice projects supporting tenants most in need.

    We’ll highlight some of the best initiatives and share practical guidance and best practice.

    We’ll hear from leading experts on topics including:

    • Prevention and proactive actions: how do we identify situations before they escalate?
    • The practical impact of rising bills and the cost-of-living crisis on tenants
    • Partnership working and community engagement
    • Hyper-local/regional support approaches
    • Innovative projects providing vital support.

    This event is essential for anyone working in housing management and income management particularly in money advice and tenancy sustainment teams:

    • Housing officers
    • Neighbourhood teams
    • Directors of neighbourhoods and income management
    • Rent recovery and income teams.
  • Our programme

    10.30  Opening remarks from the Chair

    • Aileen Evans, Group Chief Executive of Grand Union Housing Group

    10.40 Impacts of the cost-of-living and energy crises on tenants and landlords

    • Jo Walby, Chief Executive Officer at Mustard Tree

    11.10 Fuel poverty and the cost-of-living crisis

    • Yanik Croston, Business Support Manager, Switch2 Energy

    11.40 Prevention panel discussion with the morning’s speakers

    • Jo Walby, Mustard Tree
    • Yanik Croston, Business Support Manager at Switch2
    • Michelle Lockwood, Financial and Digital Inclusion Manager at SNG

    12.10 Lunch

    12.40 Leading the partnership approach in Reading to tackle poverty

    • Francesca Yates, Executive Director of CommuniCare

    1.10 Resident Voice Index: Floor Coverings – The Hidden Cost for Social Housing Residents

    • Lloyd Edwards, Senior Solutions Architect at MRI Software
    • Bekah Ryder, Research and Insights Manager at Altair

    1.40 Break

    2.00 The tools Mortar Works created for triaging people to money advice and how they are supporting housing providers with their financial inclusion work

    • George Unsworth, Founder of Mortar Works

    2.30 Case Study – Sovereign Network Group on their employment partnership scheme with Southern Housing and Isle of Wight Council

    • Elliott Buttle, Employment and Skills Manager at SNG (formerly Sovereign Housing Association)

    3.00 Closing remarks from Chair

    3.10 Close

  • Our speakers

    Francesca Yates, Executive Director, CommuniCare

    CommuniCare is an Advice Charity supporting people in and around Reading. In the ten years that Francesa has been in place, she has worked to extend the reach of the charity and increase the number of clients they can support.  As well as the Advice Centre, she has developed seven weekly outreach sessions run across the town and a home visiting service.

    Francesca and the team aim to be both reactive and proactive, identifying issues and needs and working on ways to best meet these needs. As a small charity they are able to be flexible and adapt quickly to change.

    Over the past 24 months there has been a significant increase in the number of housing issues the team are dealing with. CommuniCare are a member of NHAS and have access to their professional helpline for more complex cases. The team also attend both NHAS and Shelter training, ensuring their knowledge and understanding is up to date.

    Francesca has built a team of seven paid staff and 22 volunteers. The aim of the CommuniCare team is to support the people in need across the town, with a focus on those who are most vulnerable.

    In 2023 CommuniCare supported 6,180 clients face to face.


    George Unsworth, Director, Mortar Works

    George is a service and systems designer specialising in improving the accessibility and impact of services. He is the lead designer of the LGA’s Digital Inclusion Triage Tool, the GLA’s Tenancy Sustainment Tool and the Dementia Friendly Venues Charter.

    He leads on the development of Mortar’s service design framework Hoop’d, and supports the creation of business cases for Mortar’s FirstPoint Case Manager, an early engagement and prevention system for delivering services and support to those that are vulnerable or in crisis.


    Aileen Evans, Group Chief Executive, Grand Union Housing Group

    Aileen Evans is Chief Executive Officer of Grand Union Housing Group and at the end of June 2021 completed her term as the president of the Chartered Institute of Housing, the professional body for those working in housing.

    A qualified coach and NLP master practitioner she has a strong interest in understanding healthy organisational cultures and the impact on performance.

    An emerging mental health campaigner, she was, as part of her presidential campaign, working with the metal health charity MIND to provide a guide for housing organisations on creating mentally health organisations and had a fundraising target of £50K to support MIND.


    Michelle Lockwood, Financial and Digital Inclusion Manager at SNG

    I’m the Financial & Digital Inclusion Manager at SNG, following the 2012 Welfare Reform Act and the introduction of the ‘bedroom tax’, i’ve dedicated over a decade to social housing.   Working primarily in Income and homelessness prevention  and more recently leading the financial and digital inclusion team at SNG. I have a passion for supporting and empowering our residents to make long term sustained changes.  My responsibilities entail implementing preventative and proactive measures to mitigate financial insecurity and address food/fuel poverty across all our tenures, utilising our customer segmentation data to create a targeted response to the Cost of Living Crisis.  Additionally, delivering immediate interventions for households experiencing crises, ultimately to improve tenancy sustainment and enhance residents’ digital engagement with us.​

    Yanik Croston, Business Support Manager, Switch2 Energy

    Yanik is a Business Support Manager who is responsible for overseeing the governance of regulation and consumer policy. He works closely with several key regulatory organisations, including DESNZ (Department for Energy Security and Net Zero), Heat Trust, local MPs, Energy Ombudsman, and Ofgem, to ensure that Switch2’s operations comply with the latest regulations and policies.

    With extensive experience in the energy sector, Yanik has previously worked in the domestic energy market, where he successfully increased awareness of the priority services register to ensure that vulnerable customers were aware of the support available to them. He has also led Switch2’s customer service and debt teams, where he gained first-hand experience in dealing with the challenges that residents face, especially during the unprecedented energy crisis and rising costs.

    Yanik’s experiences have enabled him to understand the genuine everyday challenges that residents face. He is passionate about highlighting the support needed across the private and social sectors in the energy industry, and how changes in the industry must provide real benefits to people who need them the most.

  • Price and booking

    Bookings are closed for this event.

    If you experience any issues when submitting your booking, please email [email protected] with the name and date of the session along with the delegate name(s), email address(es) and job title(s) and we’ll process the booking for you.

  • Cancellations and substitutions

    If you are unable to attend an event or public training course, please let us know in writing (email is fine) at least 48 hours before. Please email [email protected]

    Otherwise, a cancellation fee of £60 plus VAT will be chargeable.

    If you are using a package place to attend and do not inform us within the agreed time frame, then a place will be taken to cover your non-attendance.

    Cancellations must be made in writing, and will be acknowledged by HQN Limited.


Making a booking:
You don’t need to be logged in to make a booking.

Step 1: Select the number of delegates you would like to book on this session
Step 2: Complete the delegate details
Step 3: Check the details, tick the consent box, and press the book now button
Step 4: Member and multi-ticket discounts will automatically be applied on the next page
Step 5: To use a coupon code please enter this at the top of the checkout page by clicking on the link
Step 6: Complete the booking details
Step 7: Confirm your booking
Step 8: You will receive a confirmation email with an order number, if you don’t receive this within 24 hours please get in touch with us – [email protected]