Benefits squad is ‘helping to reduce poverty’

Councillor Michael McPake.
Councillor Michael McPake.

A council benefits team who “know the system inside out” have racked up more than £29million in welfare entitlement for North Lanarkshire residents.

That was the message this week from council infrastructure onvener Councillor Michael McPake, who said North Lanarkshire Council’s financial inclusion team had helped to reduce poverty.

The team offer full benefit checks to residents, “making sure they receive all the benefits they are entitled to and maximising their income”.

They also provide advice and help with completing benefit applications and represent residents at appeals tribunals.

In addition, MacMillan Lanarkshire Advice Service, managed by the Financial Inclusion Team, generated £4,264,125 for people and families affected by cancer.

Councillor McPake said: “The benefits system is very complex, so completing the right forms with the appropriate information can be daunting for many people.”

“Our staff know the system inside out and are able to help residents apply for the benefits that meet their needs and circumstances.

“By maximising people’s income, we are helping to reduce poverty in our communities, boosting the local economy and improve the quality of lives of local people.

“For every £1 we invested in delivering this service, we have generated £25.91 for our residents.”

The team is also said to be much more successful than the national average when it comes to representing people at Social Security Appeals Tribunals, he said, with a success rate of around two thirds compared to the average of just 46 per cent.