Benefit backdate rules to change

Despite the worsening credit crunch, The Highland Council warns that there are still too many people missing out on money they are entitled to in welfare benefits.

Significant sums in means-tested benefits went unclaimed UK-wide last year, according to Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).  Pension Credit, Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit are among those benefits with the worst take-up.

Councillor Carolyn Wilson, Chair of The Highland Council’s Resources Committee said: “With the rising cost of living, people are finding it increasingly difficult to make ends meet but are missing out on money which is rightfully theirs. I urge anyone who is unsure about their potential benefit entitlements to get a benefit check as soon as possible by contacting the Council’s Customer Income Maximisation Team on 01463 702391.  This specialist team is trained to assist individuals and families to apply for benefits and other entitlements.”

She also warned that the DWP announced last week that the rules about getting backdated benefit are set to change from the 6 October 2008 subject to the usual parliamentary processes. This will see the maximum period for back payment reducing from a full year to just three months for pensioners and to six months for working age claimants.

She urged: “It is vital that people do not delay and put claims in now to avoid losing out on their entitlement. Even those working and receiving a wage could be missing out on claiming housing benefit, council tax benefit and other entitlements such as working tax credit. The Highland Council is committed to maximising income for our customers, particularly at the moment when people are struggling with increased living costs.”

24 Sep 2008