Your Rights: Get help to deal with the benefits system

By on 04/06/2013 in Blog

Head of regulation and enforcement Jacqui Kennedy offers advice on navigating the welfare system.

Some Birmingham citizens are facing significant financial hardship simply because they do not know how the benefits system works.

With the Government also planning to bring in further changes to some social security benefits between now and 2017, I want to offer some advice to help people understand what help they could be entitled to.

If you are on a low income - whether you are working or not - you may be able to get help with things like your rent; council tax; fuel; mortgage or health costs.

Depending on your circumstances, there may be other benefits you may be able to get - particularly if you are expecting a child or you are adopting; if you are sick or disabled; or if you are a pensioner or war widow.

There may also be some help for people when they go into hospital or a residential care or nursing home or when someone dies.

Benefits, by their very nature, can be complicated. But there are many places to get help.

Birmingham City Council is working closely with other partners and agencies through its Financial Inclusion Partnership to reduce the number of people facing high levels of financial deprivation and poverty.

Last year, the council advised citizens on how to maximise their income by around £17m of benefits to which they were entitled to.

Help can also be found at www.gov.uk - a Government website which provides customers with information on existing benefits, forthcoming changes to benefits and pensions.

It provides financial and other support for customers claiming disability benefits and their carers and it includes benefits calculators, which can estimate what help claimants may be able to get and how benefits would be affected by a change in circumstances.

Other useful websites include:

www.birmingham.gov.uk/welfarereform

www.hmrc.gov.uk/taxcredits

www.dwp.gov.uk

www.jobcentreplus.gov.uk

www.adviceguide.org.uk

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