Council promotes welfare, benefits and money advice

Yesterday (10 June) The Highland Council held a facebook chat giving lots of information and advice on what people can do to ensure they are receiving the correct benefits and tax credits, as well as giving handy tips on how to manage budgets and avoid getting into debt.  

Staff from the Council’s Income Maximisation and Money Advice teams spent two hours on facebook answering questions on benefits, welfare, money advice and personal budgeting.

Last year, the Benefit Maximisation team increased people's income by just under £4million and during the same period 1,330 people with a total of nearly £6 million of debt were helped by the council’s Money Advice team.

As well as using the facebook chat to highlight cases that showed how customers had been helped and had received increases in benefits and allowances, useful information given out during the session included:

  • Anyone claiming Universal Credit for personal allowances and housing benefit, needs to be aware that they have to make a separate claim for council tax reduction as this is not included in Universal Credit;
  • If you are on Universal Credit and finding it hard to make ends meet because your payments are monthly, you can contact these teams to access some personal budget support;
  • If you are receiving Universal Credit and have claimed the housing element, you need to remember to pay your landlord the rent that is due to avoid falling into rent arrears;
  • Make sure you are getting all the benefits and tax credits you are due. If you've had a benefit application turned down before and your situation has changed, or you haven't applied for a while, it is worth trying again.

Speaking after the Facebook event Sheila McKandie, the Council’s Benefits and Welfare Manager said: “It was the first time our staff have used a facebook chat to promote the work we do and although they were not able to go into details of individual cases, lots of information and advice was given out. It is definitely something we’ll be keen to do again. I’d like to thank everyone who took part during the session as well as those who used our free and confidential phone line to contact us.”

The council offers free benefits checks as well as money advice so anyone wishing to get in touch should telephone 0800 0901004 or  e-mailing either income.maximisation@highland.gov.uk or money.advice@highland.gov.uk

10 Jun 2015
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