Council chiefs herald work of benefit advisors

Council benefit advisors.

People in North Yorkshire have seen their incomes boosted by a total of more than £50 million as a result of work by local authority benefits advisors, say council chiefs.

Officials say they have helped residents to secure the multi-million pound figure in previously unclaimed financial support which people were entitled to since the service was started in 2015.

This is in addition to the work that the council does to ensure people receiving social care services receive the money they are entitled to as part of their care package.

North Yorkshire Council’s executive member for health and adult services, Cllr Michael Harrison, said: “We recognise the importance of financial wellbeing and do all we can to help ensure people get the income to which they are entitled.

“The dedication and diligence of council staff in helping residents is illustrated in the scale of the success they have achieved.

“It is difficult to over-estimate the positive impact of this work on those who have received assistance.”

Team members also work with registrars to support people who have been bereaved and who find their weekly income dramatically reduced as a result.

As a further example, in the space of only six months, more than 150 successful claims have been made for Attendance Allowance alone, worth almost £14,000 a year, but also generating £100,000 in back-payments for residents of the county.

One case involved the team obtaining a back payment of £85,000 in Attendance Allowance for someone who should have been receiving that money over an 11-year period.

Other income claimed as a result of intervention from the teams include personal independence payment, pension credit, universal credit and carers allowance plus a whole range of other benefits.

Expert staff members in the service can also help people access ‘non-cash’ benefits, such as travel passes and blue badges, as well as help with utility costs and access to charitable grants.

Officials say people are referred to the service by other organisations because they have already been identified as struggling to manage their own care and financial wellbeing.

The benefits system can be complex and daunting for some, so the council services are there to make sure those who really need help to navigate the many layers of the benefits system have the support they need.