Money advice services secure more than £30m in support for North Lanarkshire residents
People across North Lanarkshire benefitted from more than £30 million in additional benefit income during 2020/21.
North Lanarkshire Council’s Financial Inclusion Team (FIT) ensured the money went into the pockets of residents who often weren’t aware they were entitled to the benefits.
Part-financed by Health & Social Care North Lanarkshire (HSCNL), the service provides support and assistance regarding the range of benefits available as well as helping service users claim all benefits they’re entitled to.
The results for North Lanarkshire residents, and the local economy as a whole, are exceptional. For every £1 invested in income maximisation in the last year, £23.72 was generated in return for local people.
Between April 2020 and March 2021 the team worked with:
- Health and Social Care to perform 21,767 benefit checks which raised £14,118,042 for local residents
- Housing Services to secure £12,931,116 in benefits for 5,452 new and existing tenants
- The MacMillan Lanarkshire Advice Service, provided by NLC, to obtain £2,026,447 in income for residents affected by cancer
- Charities and energy suppliers to claim £1,105,362
- Elected members, MSPs/MPs, NHS Lanarkshire and other agencies where 7,906 people had been identified for welfare rights advice and information
Councillor Paul Kelly, chair of North Lanarkshire Integration Joint Board’s performance, finance & audit committee, said: “The Finance Inclusion Team is making a significant, and hugely welcome, impact in tackling inequality across North Lanarkshire.
“The Covid-19 pandemic has brought inequality into an even sharper focus, highlighting the impact of low paid and insecure work in particular.
“It has also had a significant impact on people living in socio-economic disadvantage as well as specific impacts on children who were already living in poverty, or whose families have now been pushed into poverty.
“The true impact of the pandemic continues to emerge and it will take time for income and health inequalities to fully materialise. This means that it’s crucial that the partnership, the council and our partners continue to monitor this and act quickly to tackle the most severe impacts of the pandemic.”
He added: “Due to the size and complexity of the benefits system, general and specialist welfare rights services such as North Lanarkshire’s are crucial to individuals and families dependent on benefits.
“Successful welfare rights intervention, where individuals are awarded extra benefit, frequently means that, as a result of increased income, they are better able to manage their own affairs and often do not require further social work services. One other important aspect of the team’s work is the overall success rate of 73% of all Social Security appeal tribunals.
“The team’s work has meant that many people are now receiving welfare benefits they were unaware they were entitled to. Debts have been written off and sanctions appealed successfully. Families have had access to grants and assistance in dealing with several factors which contribute towards poverty.
“This is a hugely important, and impressive, piece of ongoing work which is helping to empower our residents and tackle inequality.”