Local folk benefit to tune of £14m thanks to welfare service

A TOTAL of £14.4 million has been generated for residents in North Lanarkshire in the last year thanks to the work of North Lanarkshire Council’s welfare rights service.

The service offers advice on the range of state benefits available as well as practical help to claim all the benefits people are entitled to.

Welfare rights officers, within housing and social work services, can also accompany service users to appeal tribunals and liaise with the Department of Work and Pensions, public utilities and housing associations on individuals’ behalf.

When anyone uses a social work service for the first time, they are also offered a full benefits check to ensure they are maximising their income.

Councillor Barry McCulloch, convener of housing and social work services, said: “Many people do not claim all the benefits they’re entitled to, either because they don’t know they are entitled to any help or because they believe it will be too difficult to apply.

“Over the last seven years, the income generated across North Lanarkshire amounts to over £77million.

“This shows how important this service is for many people within North Lanarkshire, and it benefits the local economy as the money is spent in local shops and services.

“In many cases, the increased income from benefits means people are better able to manage their own affairs and don’t require further council services. It can make a real difference to the quality of life of local people.“

The welfare rights service also represents people at appeals. In 2010/11 officers represented at 1405 appeals with a 60 per cent success rate, above the national average.