Despite a loud chorus of pleas to the Chancellor, this April’s benefit uprating effectively imposes the largest real ‘cuts’ in benefit income for decades. This is because inflation and the cost of living are running at over double the 3.1% increase in benefit rates that took place this week.
The rates of local housing allowance (LHA) are still frozen, even though private sector rents have increased, along with the proportion of private tenants on benefits who are funding the shortfall between LHA and their actual rent liability.
When we factor in the unprecedented increases in fuel and food costs, the financial landscape for our clients looks very precarious.
This emphasises the importance of these three elements of good practice:
- Check that your client’s current benefits are correct and maximised
- Check that earnings and other income have been treated accurately
- Check out ALL sources of extra help, from statutory, voluntary and charitable sources – there may be some surprising pots of money out there if you know where to look.
Whatever your views on the role of the State and its provision of adequate resources, we are in unknown territory as far as the next year or so is concerned, and so it’s vital to be able to think creatively about how to secure extra help for your clients.
The rules about how charitable and voluntary payments are treated within the benefit system is not always straightforward (no surprises there), but generally speaking, one-off payments to individuals, or payments by charities to third parties (such as a charity paying a fuel bill or paying off a debt) would be disregarded. Such a payment could make all the difference to a client’s financial survival.
The best place to search for this kind of help is on www.turn2us.org.uk
Regular visitors to my benefits training courses will be very familiar with my enthusiasm for turn2us, as their well-designed and comprehensive website offers a vast amount of information arranged around ‘life events’, such as having an illness or injury, coming up to retirement, or being a carer. You can carry out a benefits check and search for grants all in one site, as well as source tools for debt management or how to get help with health costs.
Of course, attending a ‘Benefits for Beginners’ course, or a session on ‘Catching up with Universal Credit’ will also help you expand your good practice skills, so check out the dates coming up in the BHT Training calendar!
Find Out More
Click below to find out more about our upcoming welfare benefits training with Jayne:
About Jayne Knights
Jayne has been delivering training in Brighton for 15 years.
After qualifying as a social worker and working as an adviser in London, she finally made it to the seaside and has been in Brighton since the mid-80s, doing a variety of benefits-related jobs.
Having had such a long immersion in benefits world, she is familiar with just about every scenario that might crop up, and aims to bring that experience and overview into all of her courses.
The trainer was brilliant, she clearly knows her stuff and set the learning at a great pace. There was a good amount of information conveyed in a clear way.” (Benefits for Beginners)