A MOVE to help the area's more vulnerable council house tenants stay in their homes was launched on Monday by Fife Council.

By urging tenants to "Think Rent!", the council is hoping that people will prioritise rent payments, and ask for help and support if they are struggling to pay.

Convener of the council's Community and Housing Services Committee Cllr Judy Hamilton explained: "Having a home is a basic human need and we have to support people to stay in their homes. "While the majority of tenants pay their rent regularly with no issues, there is a growing number of people who, through no fault of their own, are struggling to cope financially. We are urging people to 'Think Rent!' and ask for help before problems get out of hand."

Fife's tenants are involved in deciding how much rent they pay through consultation each year, in the knowledge that all rental income is invested back into improving existing council homes and building new affordable homes across Fife and the Cowdenbeath-Lochgelly area. The council is currently investing £5.8 million in building new homes and £33.2 million to improve homes. Around £7 million is owed to the council in unpaid rent.

Added Cllr Hamilton: "The introduction of Universal Credit has had a huge impact on people financially and affected the way that some tenants manage their rent payments. Times are tough for many but we are here to help."

Housing officers are on hand to help with money advice, leaflets are available with information on where to get support and the council is working hand in hand with partners including CARF to make sure people get the money advice they need. And for those receiving Universal Credit you can request a rent payment directly to Fife Council. It will come off your money before it is paid to you, taking the worry out of missing rent payments. You can select this option from your online Universal Credit journal.

Added Cllr Hamilton: "Please don't struggle alone. We understand that there are lots of competing pressures on everyone's budget and we will always aim to help or put you in touch with someone who can. Contact us as soon as possible so that we can support you."

For more information visit, www.fifedirect.org.uk/moneyadvice