Tuesday, May 31, 2016
Lancashire County Council’s Welfare Rights Service has made thousands of people better off by making sure that they receive the benefits which they are entitled to.
Nearly £14m in benefits has now been claimed by people in the county over the 12-month period from April 2015 to March 2016 - for which people were eligible, but these benefits weren't being claimed.
This money is now supporting residents with basic living costs like eating and heating their home.
During this 12-month period, the Welfare Rights Service dealt with over 11,000 enquiries from people with various needs. 9,000 of these needed in-depth advice and help.
There are now more people using the service than ever, with over 31,000 calls last year alone.
Responding to the increased demand, Welfare Rights staff identified residents’ needs and carried out the following campaigns:
• Inviting the over-75s for a free and confidential benefits check. This resulted in 160 people being better off by over £960,000
• Raising awareness of pension credits and attendance allowance. This meant that people claimed an extra £1.7m in pension credits and £2.7m in attendance allowance
• Working closely with Macmillan and cancer nurses to ‘fast track’ claims for seriously ill people, resulting in payouts of £725,000
• Represented people at 450 benefit appeal tribunals and winning at 375 of these
County Councillor Azhar Ali, Lancashire County Council cabinet member for Health and Wellbeing, said,"We provide free and confidential help and advice with benefit problems for Lancashire residents.
"We help some of our most vulnerable people to receive the financial support they are entitled to, sometimes when they are going through an extremely stressful time. There are many reasons for this, including serious or sudden illness and not being able to work, or having to reduce working hours.
"The extra income makes a real difference. Often people have extra expense as a result of their age or medical condition, such as increased heating bills or special dietary requirements.
"Some people need our help because of a long-term illness or disability, or they have caring responsibilities.
"There really are so many reasons and genuine problems that mean that people need to claim the financial support that they are entitled to."
Joanne Barker, Welfare Rights Service manager, said: “We want to continue working with other health professionals and their patients in the future, to add to the support we already provide and find more ways to reach and help the most vulnerable and needy in Lancashire.
"We receive hundreds of compliments and thank you letters as well which is so nice. People do really appreciate the help we give them.
"I know some people feel really uncomfortable about asking for help, but we would ask anyone who thinks they could be entitled to contact us."
Anyone who would like a free and confidential benefit check can phone the Welfare Rights Service on 0300 123 6739 or email firstname.lastname@example.org