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Pioneering Schemes

PIONEERING FURNITURE RECYCLING SCHEME COULD HELP SLASH DEBTS, CREATE SUSTAINABLE TENANCIES AND SAVE THE ENVIRONMENT

A pioneering project aimed at encouraging communities across the country to redistribute unwanted furniture to low-income families could help slash debt, create sustainable tenancies and save thousands of tonnes of household goods from being dumped in landfills.

The National Housing Federation and The Furniture Re-use Network have today launched a new booklet outlining how social landlords and their tenants can reap enormous benefits by teaming up with a local furniture re-use organisation (FRO).

The scheme hopes to significantly increase the 2.5 million items of recycled furniture and domestic appliances, which are sold to people on low incomes at knockdown prices every year.

Existing FROs are already helping to furnish 750,000 homes, saving 90,000 tonnes of useable goods from ending up in landfills in the process.

But the launch of the new project is expected to see those figures more than double for furniture and quadruple for white goods over the next two years.

The "Win-Win" handbook also details how housing providers can refer customers to the FROs, and how they can form or support these innovative community projects.

Under the schemes, unwanted, but good quality, furniture and appliances are collected directly from household doorsteps, local authorities and civic amenity sites.

Housing associations can then refer tenants to a re-use project, where they can pick out the furniture and white goods they need for their home.

On average the cost of buying household goods from a FRO is a third cheaper than those purchased from a second hand shop.

The housing associations are then invoiced for the goods, or the tenants pay through their own funds or by accessing grants. Credit unions also pay for goods in some instances.

The household goods - which have all been tested to meet  legal standards - are normally delivered within five days, for a nominal fee or often free of charge.

By offering good quality furniture and appliances at affordable rates, the projects help those on low incomes to set up home, and in the process bypass the need to borrow cash from door step lenders at extortionate interest rates.

Tenants free of large debts are less likely to fall behind with their rent and face the threat of eviction, helping to build a more settled and sustainable community.

For new tenants moving into a property after being homeless, in care or living in temporary accommodation, the FROs can also improve their chances of settling quickly into their new surroundings.

Starter packs, containing key items like bedding, crockery, cutlery and curtains, help transform a house into a home and build sustainable tenancies.

Many FROs have a long track record of encouraging those out of work to volunteer on the projects - boosting their skills, confidence and employment prospects.

Fly-tipping and the amount of furniture ending up rotting in landfill sites are also dramatically reduced thanks to the schemes.

Nick Powell, finance policy leader at the Federation, said: "Housing associations and their tenants can achieve enormous benefits by working in partnership with these projects, which help those most in need, on fixed or low incomes, to keep their heads above water financially by offering good quality furniture and electrical appliances at affordable rates."

"In addition to tackling financial exclusion, reuse also encourages wider use of recycled furniture, and in the process saves thousands of tonnes of household goods from being dumped in landfill."

Paul Smith, chief executive of the FRN, said: "Partnership between housing associations and re-use projects is an excellent way to ensure that tenants can have a home rather than just a tenancy. By working together we can reduce people's debt, help sustain their tenancy and provide an environmentally sustainable service"

The 32-page booklet is being sent out to National Housing Federation's 1300 members, along with 2,000 flyers which will promote the publication at events throughout the country during the year.

It marks the first major project between the Federation and the FRN, who have joined forces in a bid to reduce social exclusion and to provide good quality advice and guidance to their members.

The booklet is available to download here or if hard copies are required, from the Federation’s Bristol office. Tel: 0117 907 5333 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting              0117 907 5333      end_of_the_skype_highlighting

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