INFORMATION AGENDA ITEM 2
BOROUGH OF POOLE
Community Support and Education Scrutiny Committee
TUESDAY 18TH OCTOBER 2005
REPORT OF HEAD OF REVENUE & BENEFITS SERVICES
ON BENEFIT TAKE UP
1.1This report provides members with details of work undertaken to improve take up of benefits, in particular Housing and Council Tax Benefit.
2.1Members are asked to note the contents of this report
3.1Encouraging members of the public to apply for state benefits is an important task for the wellbeing of our residents and is part of the Health and Wellbeing priority for Poole. A number of Units, external partners and agencies help to fulfil this role.
3.2This report refers explicitly to Housing and Council Tax benefit. Here we have seen a growth in take-up of around 3.5% year on year (see appendix A) There are approximately 16.5% of households in Poole on one or both of these benefits
4Take up work undertaken or scheduled for 2005 /2006
4.1Council tax benefit leaflets were delivered with every council tax bill where the payer was not already in receipt of benefit. At the end of April 600 initial replies had been received. After completion of application forms and assessment, 64 new claims resulted in approximately £51,000 additional benefit.
4.2Officers working with colleagues in Housing and Community services are now undertaking joint surgeries to assist specific groups of people.
4.3Benefit awareness sessions are now being provided to private and social landlords, the voluntary sector and other interested parties. This is being funded by Department for Work and Pensions(DWP).
4.4Regular advertisements are now placed in “Poole News” and “At Home” as well as some specialist magazines. Working with colleagues throughout Dorset a series of advertisements have been placed in the Advertiser series of newspapers.
4.5The Borough of Poole website is currently being revised to improve the information available on benefits. The site has a self assessment benefit calculator on it and, we are currently finalising the installation of an on-line claim form for housing and council tax benefit. Later this year an E-Government project will allow claimants to view their benefit claim information on-line.
4.6The Joint Team made up of the Poole’s Benefit Service and the Local Pension Service visiting team, continue to target take-up of pension credit and provide benefit advice for cases referred to them. The staff have now been fully trained to deal with each other’s benefits.
4.7A project is now underway to provide information about benefits to patients waiting for their flu injection. Working with the PCT a number of surgeries in the area have agreed to allow officers access during these sessions. Leaflets will be distributed and it is intended that if a member of the public, expresses an interest, a visit in their own home will be arranged to help them complete an application forms.
Head of Revenue and Benefits Service
Tel 01202 633143