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BLOG: Our Welfare team are always here to help

06 October 2022

By Dianne Challis - Welfare Advice Team Leader

Dianne Challis

The Welfare Benefit Advice team continues to increase residents’ access to unclaimed benefits and welfare support, unlocking over £2.4million in benefit support for residents in the 2021/22 financial year. With two thirds of this is recovered for rent, another third goes directly to residents, often in unclaimed disability benefits.

Dianne Challis

Our Welfare Benefit Advice team currently consists of three Officers and a Team Leader, plus a part-time Officer who splits their time between the Welfare and Income team. One of the team was recently able to get a Housing Benefit claim reinstated for a resident, with backdated benefits totalling over £4,000. This resident was experiencing health issues at the time that means she was unable to stay on top of her benefits claim alone. With the stress of being behind in her rent escalating her condition, having a clear rent account has made a huge difference to her situation. I’m really proud of the work my team do to take the weight off residents’ shoulders by helping them to receive the benefits they are entitled to.

While the team continue to respond to the enquiries we receive on the phone or by email, we’ve also started visiting residents in their homes again. We had to stop doing this during the pandemic so it’s been great to return to providing support for residents in-person, particularly our older residents living in our Retirement Living schemes.

In recent months, we’ve received lots of requests about the current crisis with the cost of living and beyond. We regularly find that people are not aware of the benefits they are entitled to so a number of benefits go unclaimed, especially Pension Credit for older residents. We also find that disability benefits are often not claimed as the 38 page application form can be a bit daunting. Most people don’t know that while disability benefits are often initially refused, if you request a review or even an appeal, it can often lead to a successful claim eventually.

To support residents through the rising cost of living, we’ve set up a dedicated cost of living section of our website with useful advice and support available to you. I’ve included some key support available from the Government below, and I really encourage you to visit our cost of living page to find out more advice and help on offer.

Visit the cost of living section here

If you’d like to speak to my team for support with what benefits you might be entitled to, please contact us by email, text, website form, social media or phone call.

A payment of £650 for households on means tested benefits (including Universal Credit) paid in two instalments (one in July 2022 and another in autumn 2022). This is paid directly from the Department of Work & Pensions (DWP). 

There will be additional cost of living payments made to those eligible in spring 2023 and spring 2024. These are:

  • £301 for people on an eligible low income benefit, to be paid during spring 2023
  • £300 for people on an eligible low income benefit, to be paid during autumn 2023
  • £299 for people on an eligible low income benefit, to be paid in spring 2024.

This payment will be made automatically and does not need to be applied for. Find out more about these payments here: Cost of Living Payment 2022 - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

A £150 payment to those receiving certain disability benefits such as Personal Independence Payments, Attendance Allowance or Disability Living Allowance. This was paid directly into the bank accounts of those receiving disability benefits in September 2022. £150 was paid for each person in the household receiving a qualifying benefit before 25 May 2022. This was paid in addition to the £650 Cost of Living payment for those on means tested benefits.

There will be an additional disability cost of living payment of £150 for people on an eligible disability benefits which will be paid during summer 2023.

This payment will be made automatically and does not need to be applied for. Find out more about these payments here: Cost of Living Payment 2022 - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

The UK Government awarded councils in England a pot of £1 billion. Residents who meet the eligibility criteria can apply for funds to cover the purchase of essential items or pay essential household bills. Please check your local council’s website for more information.

£150 council tax rebate, this should have been paid direct into banks of everyone who pays council tax by direct debit, those not paying Council Tax or pay in other ways need to make an application to their local authority, every local authority has a different system, please contact your local authority for information.

For more information and independent debt advice you can contact any of the following agencies:

  • National Debtline - Free, confidential, and independent debt advice for individuals who are not self-employed. Phone 0808 808 4000 or visit nationaldebtline.org
  • StepChange Debt Charity - A charity providing free, confidential, and independent debt advice for individuals who are not self-employed. Phone: 0800 138 1111 or visit stepchange.org
  • Citizens Advice - Citizens Advice Bureau provide free, independent, and confidential advice to those who are not self-employed on their rights and responsibilities. Phone: 0800 144 8848 or visit citizensadvice.org.uk

You can also find out lots of useful information from Turn2Us, a national charity providing practical help to people who are struggling financially. Click here to visit their website.

If you’re struggling with paying your water bills, you may be able to apply for help from your water supplier to temporarily reduce your bill, or to cap or pay a discounted rate for future bills.

The UK's largest water company Thames Water offer the WaterSure bill cap and WaterHelp scheme which aim to lighten the load on households in need of extra support. The WaterSure bill cap is available to help people on a water meter who are finding it hard to save water because they have a large family or water-dependent medical condition. The WaterHelp scheme provides a discounted water bill for low income households. To find out more about these schemes and apply, click here or the button below.

Thames Water's financial support schemes

We know that residents' water suppliers may vary, so to find out details and advice on what support your supplier provide, please visit the debt charity Step Change's website: Help Paying Your Water Bills. StepChange Debt Charity

More help with paying your water bills

Government cost of living payment
Disability cost of living payment
Household support fund
Council tax rebate
Debt advice and support
Support with your water bills

Visit the cost of living section here

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