15 Feb 2016
Two new recruits have joined a rapidly growing welfare benefits teams as the number of families under claiming benefits continues to grow, says charitable body, Severn Trent Trust Fund (STTF).
The new positions have been funded by STTF enabling welfare support officer Lesleyanne Dutton and welfare rights adviser Nicola Turner to become part of the six strong Auriga Assist team. Since April last year the team has helped nearly 300 families and individuals with queries around unclaimed benefits.
“We offer a free benefits check and if unclaimed benefits are found the team will help maximise income and realise the customers benefit entitlement,” says Kim Wootton Operations Director, STTF.
“There are many different reasons why customers need help, sometimes the most vulnerable are just not able to get out of the house or they don’t have access to a computer to take the necessary first steps. Often the forms are complex and long, making it difficult for people to complete.
“In some cases we have had to support and represent customers all the way to an appeal tribunal to help them get the help they need,” says Kim.
The Government recently back tracked on its plans to cut tax credits but this is not going to ease the situation according to STTF. They believe, like many other organisations such as the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) and the Resolution Foundation that millions of working families will be worse off by 2020 because of the changes.
“The introduction of Universal Credit will not necessarily make things better. There will only be one benefit instead of six but every claim must be made on-line and this in itself will be a major barrier,” concludes Kim.
Pictured: The Auriga Assist team including (from left to right: Eleanor Poole, Mark Smith, Aadal Shafiq, Lesleyanne Dutton, Nicola Turner and Kerry Garland.