I understand that the current situation with coronavirus is likely to pose significant challenges for some of our residents, so I wanted to outline the support which is available to those who might be struggling financially.
Despite the scale and pace of the changes we have seen in recent weeks, the core part of my role remains the same: to provide the best possible advice and support to residents who are facing financial challenges. The main areas I advise on include the following:
- Advice on claiming Universal Credit
- Guidance through the Universal Credit application process
- Housing Benefit and Council Tax Support application process
- Changes in income and what support is available
- Detailed advice on all the other benefits administered by the DWP
- If you are shielding and are finding it difficult to get a food delivery slot, please contact us on 0800 587 0211 and we can help provide further information
My colleagues in Housing Services have called more than 2000 residents over the last three weeks and have connected me to many residents who I have talked to for the first time. I hold up to one hour long appointments by phone with anyone referred to me, I work with them closely to identify the best way I can help.
So far I have advised on topics such as:
- how to claim Universal Credit for the first time
- how to record a change in circumstance in relation to benefits
- how to obtain a fit note for those who are having to self-isolate
- how the Self-Employed Relief Fund is administered
- how the furlough process works as part of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme
- how to dispute a benefit decision if you believe the decision is wrong
- any further help that is available within the local community
I receive regular updates from the DWP, local authorities, charities and voluntary organisations who provide information on any process changes they have introduced. I am aware of how Housing Benefit and Local Council Tax Support might help those that are eligible to claim.
I am also in touch with debt charities and the Leeds Credit Union who may be able to support people with budgeting and/or providing financial support to prevent the need for the use of a doorstep money lender. An example of a way that we can support people who may be facing a Debt Relief Order is with a budgeting account from Leeds Credit Union.
I am very conscious that not everyone is online and if you know of someone who needs help please pass this information on, they can contact me by telephoning 0800 587 0211.
If you have any questions or queries about money and benefits please do get in touch, more information is also available on our updated webpage here.