Thursday, 12 November 2009

More to get help to pay their Council Tax or rent

Working families in Swansea are being urged to see if they could get help towards their Council Tax bills or help towards their rent under new rules.

Swansea Council is taking its benefit take-up campaign into schools and supermarkets amid fears that more than a third of people who qualify for the help haven't claimed it.

Since April 2009 the take-up team has helped 725 people in Swansea claim £374,877 worth of Council Tax Benefit but rule changes mean that even more people could be getting vital help towards their Council Tax bills from this month.

Some people have found that prior to November 2 this year- when rule changes came into affect- they didn't qualify at all but now they qualify for nearly their full bill to be paid for them.

And the money comes from central government so claiming does not affect the funding going to the Council for services.

The rule changes mean from November 2 benefit is ignored in the calculations of income and this can improve someone's entitlement to Council Tax Benefit and Housing Benefit- particularly families with more than one child.

This comes off the back of changes in October 2008 which meant Child Maintenance was no longer included as income.

There has also been a change in the regulations for the treatment of capital for those over the age of 60. From November 2 the first £10,000 of savings and investments is disregarded in the calculations.

Swansea Council is using grant funding provided to each Welsh Authority to promote Council Tax Benefit and Housing Benefit and to try to reach those that are not claiming what they are entitled to.

Paula Lewis, Benefit Take-Up Manager, said: "Thousands of people are not claiming their entitlement to the rebate on their Council Tax. For example people who work could qualify depending on their circumstances and the total income that they have.

"The change in our regulations from November 2 can have a dramatic effect on someone's entitlement to Council Tax Benefit and Housing Benefit- especially in a family that has more than one child.

"People who may have claimed in the past and been told they did not qualify should check if legislation changes mean they now do qualify.

"Swansea Council's benefits take-up team aims to ensure that people have the information and confidence to get the financial support which is rightly theirs.

"An entitlement calculation can be done in minutes over the telephone and individual circumstances are taken into account to assess whether people qualify."

Cllr Stuart Rice, Swansea Council Cabinet Member for Finance, said: "I urge everyone to contact the take-up team on 01792 635885 to have a calculation for their particular circumstances. Even a little money off the bill can help."

Anyone wanting information or help should contact the take-up team on 01792 635885.


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