Monday 11th June 2012
A money advice service has helped tenants claim more than £500,000 in benefits over the last year.
South Staffordshire Housing Association (SSHA) is offering a free financial support service to its tenants to make sure they are receiving the benefits they are entitled to through one-to-one appointments, home visits and ongoing support, and can also represent tenants in appeals and disputes.
Between April 2011 and April 2012, the service provided benefits advice and casework to 311 people and helped claim a total of £518,849 in benefits, including Housing Benefit and Attendance Allowance, which is for people with a disability, in need of care or aged 65 and over.
Nationally up to £15 billion of benefits goes unclaimed every year, including £5.5 billion that older people are entitled to. This includes Council Tax Benefit, Housing Benefit and Pension Credit.
As major welfare reform is set to take place in the coming year, people claiming benefits may need even more support in understanding how the changes will affect them.
One couple to have been helped by SSHA is Elizabeth and Eric Holmes. Now in their late 70s, they had lived in their SSHA-owned property for 53 years and needed to downsize to be able to manage the property.
Thanks to advice from SSHA's income management advisor Colin Spires they were advised to claim Attendance Allowance, as well as Housing Benefit, to help them afford to move into extra care scheme Cherry Tree Court in Essington.
Elizabeth said: "When Cherry Tree Court was built, I was not very well and our house and garden was getting too big for us - things were getting on top of us. We didn't think we could afford to move into Cherry Tree Court but Colin came to see us and helped us to claim Attendance Allowance."