Benefits – are you getting enough?
More than 900 older people are around £22 better off each week, on average – thanks to a scheme encouraging people to claim their full benefits entitlement
Hull pensioners are receiving more than a million pounds in extra income every year thanks to a scheme which encourages people to claim their full housing and council tax benefits.
The scheme, a partnership between Hull City Council and the government's pensions service, started in April 2006 and has resulted in pensioners receiving more than £550,000 in back payments.
A search is now on to find more people who are not claiming enough.
"We have identified another 300 pensioners in Hull who are currently receiving pension credits, but who are not claiming housing or council tax benefit which, under the circumstances, they may be entitled to," says Kerry Griffiths, from the council's Citizen Engagement service.
"So we'll be writing to them soon to help them make a claim - or just to offer them extra information.
"Reasons why pensioners don't claim are sometimes to do with pride and not wanting to be seen to take 'handouts.'"
"One person, who felt this way to begin with but started to receive the extra benefits, said for the first time they were able to look forward to the future and would be able to use the income to pay for much-needed furniture, redecoration and some home support services."
But pensioners aren't the only group being urged to make sure they are receiving their correct entitlements.
There are more than 36,000 households across the city, including those lived in by single parents, the unemployed and disabled residents, that also receive help towards paying their rent and council tax through housing and council tax benefits.
And every household is being urged to make sure the council's benefits service is informed about any changes in circumstances which could result in both under or overpayment.
- changes in address or if someone moves in or out of the household
- changes in the working hours, pay or employment of someone in the household
- if someone in the household starts to receive tax credits or has a change in the amount paid to them
- if someone in the household starts or stops receiving other benefits or the amounts received change
- if someone in the household starts to pay less or more for childcare
- if a child in the household leaves school, education or training
- if savings of more than £6000 increase or decrease
"Whilst many of our customers do inform us if their circumstances change, there are some who do not," says Andy Sims, benefits manager at the council.
"Large overpayments can sometimes accrue which we have to put time and resources into recovering.
"But also customers may be suffering hardship because they have not informed us of a change which means they are not getting enough benefit."
For more details please phone 300300, or visit any council customer service centre (the addresses and opening times are on page 3) or look on the council's website at www.hullcc.gov.uk