North Ayrshire team helps residents receive correct benefits
People struggling to make ends meet during the cost-of-living crisis, who live in North Ayrshire, can turn to a team of specialist welfare rights advisers for advice.
As Christmas approaches, there can be more financial pressure on individuals and families across North Ayrshire and the Money Matters team at North Ayrshire Council has stressed that it is there to offer free, impartial and confidential advice to help ensure people get the state benefits they are entitled to.
They can: complete a benefit check for you; confirm what you are entitled to; help you make a claim; assist you to dispute a decision or sanction and provide appeal representation.
Manager David Hornell said: “The current cost-of-living crisis means people have a lack of money to feed themselves and their family, pay their heating costs, pay their rent and council tax and generally pay their bills.
“This applies to both people in and out of work. Obviously, the current cost of living crisis is affecting everyone but people on benefits are particularly impacted by it. People on benefits are still being impacted by the 2012 Welfare Reform changes, for example sanctions, the two-child limit and the benefit cap.
“A major one is the Bedroom Tax, where More than £430 million of bedroom tax deductions were made from UK claimants’ housing support payments in 2021/2022.
“The overall impact of this leads to a deterioration in peoples physical and mental health which greatly impacts in them as individuals and their families. This, in turn, leads to a greater demand on NHS and HSCP services.”
In the last financial year, Money Matters – which is part of North Ayrshire Health and Social Care Partnership - achieved more than £17.5m in financial gains for North Ayrshire residents.
David Hornell added: “The demand for our service is greater now than it has ever been. The Money Matters Telephone Advice Line is receiving well over 100 calls extra a month now compared to April.”
The service has welfare rights advisers in seven secondary schools, works in partnership with North Ayrshire Foodbank and is currently involved in a two-year project that tests the delivery of advice in nine GP surgeries throughout North Ayrshire, with plans to expand to Arran and Millport next year.
It also works in partnership with other agencies, meaning anyone who asks for advice can also be referred to experts in other areas for assistance.
Councillor Margaret Johnson, cabinet member for health and social care, commented: “The staff at Money Matters do a great job helping people in our communities with welfare rights advice.
“I would encourage anyone who needs assistance to get in touch with them, and remember the service is free and confidential.”
Anyone in North Ayrshire can speak directly to an adviser by calling the Money Matters Advice Line on 01294 310456 between 9.30am and 4pm, Monday to Friday. You can also email email@example.com and there is an online contact form here.