People struggling to cope with the effects of benefits changes have received help to the tune of £25m. This is thanks to a team at North Lanarkshire Council who make sure people receive what they are entitled to.
This year, the level of benefits secured by the local authority’s welfare rights staff has increased by £10.1m.
This is up 65 per cent from last year, ensuring those most in need had access to all benefits.
Income generated for the financial year 2012/13 across the entire housing and social work services, together with MacMillan Lanarkshire Advice Service and Sanctuary Housing Association amounted to £25,617,642.
North Lanarkshire Council says the benefits system is very complex which can often lead to poor uptake of benefits.
This can mean people are often put off by completing complex forms and with the process of applying for benefits.
Welfare rights staff can offer assistance to local people by completing claim forms and giving advice on the full range of social security benefits; providing supportive evidence; liaising with the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), public utilities and housing authorities; Intervening in a crisis to prevent fuel disconnection, eviction etc; Challenging unfavourable decisions, and accompanying service users to interviews and reviews.
Councillor Sam Love said: “Our specialist services are a lifeline to individuals and families dependent on benefits. Given the poverty indicators in North Lanarkshire, social work mobilises its resources to tackle poverty across the community.
“Money is being made available not only for local people and their families but it’s also boosting the local economy too. I’m pleased with the effective welfare rights service being provided and confident we can continue to offer a high level of support to those most in need.”