Wheatley Group helps tenants receive £12m in unclaimed benefits
Wheatley Group has helped tenants access £12 million in unclaimed benefits in just over two years.
The Group – which includes Scotland’s biggest social landlord GHA, Cube, Loretto Housing and West Lothian Housing Partnership (WLHP) – provides free, expert advice to help social housing tenants claim all they are due.
Now Wheatley is urging even more tenants to get in touch and get help to claim all of their unclaimed benefits.
Olga Clayton, Wheatley Group director of housing and care, said: “Universal Credit is being rolled out across Scotland so it’s never been more important for tenants to get on top of their finances. We want to do everything we can to help tenants who have been the hardest hit by welfare reforms to get all the help they need.”
Alex Neil, cabinet secretary for social justice, communities and pensioners’ rights, officially launched this year’s welfare benefit take-up campaign yesterday.
Mr Neil said: “The benefits system can be extremely complex so it’s no surprise many people don’t know what to claim or how to go about it.
“That’s why it’s great that Wheatley is making the effort to help people understand the system and get the money they are entitled to.
“To have helped tenants claim an extra £12m in just two years is an outstanding success and just shows that if anyone thinks they need help, they should ask Wheatley Group for advice as soon as possible.”
Welfare Benefits Advisors are on hand to guide people through the process of claiming all the benefits they are due. Support is also available to help tenants manage their money and to get back into work or education.
According to the most recent UK government figures, every year around £20 billion of welfare benefits and tax credits go unclaimed in the UK.
Since late 2012, staff have helped tenants of GHA, Cube, Loretto and WLHP claw back more than £12million in benefits which they had not been taking up. In the past year alone they have been supported to claim £6million of benefits which were rightfully theirs.
GHA tenants George Hessan, 80, and Margaret, 79, from Cranhill, did not know they were entitled to Attendance Allowance, full Housing Benefit and Pension Credit. They are now around £400 a week better off.
George said: “It was a nice surprise as we didn’t know about the extra help. We had our pensions and we’ve always put a bit to one side, but this means we’re better off.
“There will be people out there in similar circumstances. They should get in touch with their landlord as help is out there.”
Wheatley is also looking to launch a new banking account later this year which will help tenants keep on top of their bills and rent.
Universal Credit is the UK government’s new single payment for people who are looking for work or on a low income. It has already been introduced in several areas in Scotland, including Inverness, Edinburgh, North Lanarkshire and West Dunbartonshire. Glasgow will follow in May.
The new single payment currently only affects new claimants who are single, aged 18-65 and claiming Jobseekers’ Allowance.
Tenants who want help to claim all they are due should speak to their housing officer.
Wheatley Group offers a number of additional support services for tenants, including fuel advisors, a furniture recycling scheme, a handyperson service for the over-60s, free computer learning centres and a food poverty programme to help people struggling financially.