Benefits advice and information
Our Benefits Team provide advice to ensure that people are receiving the benefits they are entitled to and help to maximise their income and enable them to live as independently as possible.
This service is telephone based during which one of our friendly team will have a chat with you about your circumstances and advise on what benefits we think you could be entitled to.
If face to face support is necessary, we can refer you on to other organisations such as Citizen’s Advice, local Connect services or the Department for Work Pension’s (DWP).
You can receive benefits for several reasons, including if you:
- have a long term illness or disability
- care for someone
- are unemployed or work part-time
- are over pension age
Watch our short video which shows how people in different situations can be entitled to benefits:
Personal Independence Payment
Personal Independence Payment (PIP) is a benefit for people of working age, who have a long-term health condition or disability. Your entitlement is based on how your condition affects you day to day.
It is not means tested so your entitlement is not affected by income and savings, and it does not matter who lives with you. PIP can still be paid even if you are working.
Receiving PIP may help you to become entitled to other benefits or increase the value of other benefits that you are already receiving.
Your entitlement to PIP is regularly assessed to ensure the that the level of help you get is correct.
For further information or to start your claim visit the PIP pages on GOV.UK
Attendance Allowance is a non-taxable weekly benefit for people over state pension age who need looking after because of an illness or disability. It is not means tested so your entitlement is not affected by income and savings, and it does not matter who lives with you. It is also not determined by your mobility issues.
Attendance Allowance is paid weekly at 2 different rates. The rate you get depends on the level of help you need:
- Low rate is for people who require daytime or night-time care.
- Higher rate is for those requiring daytime and night-time care.
People who are terminally ill can receive the higher rate and these claims are dealt with much quicker. This is known as claiming under special rules and the GOV.UK website has more information about how to do this.
For further information or to start your claim visit the Attendance Allowance pages on GOV.UK
New Style Employment and Support Allowance
New Style Employment Support Allowance (ESA) is paid based on your national insurance contributions. This should not be confused with Income Related ESA which has now been replaced with Universal Credit.
New style ESA is paid to people whose ability to work is limited by ill health or disability. Claimants are divided into two groups: the support group and the work-related activity group. The group that you are placed in determines:
- the amount of ESA you receive
- the responsibility you need to meet to keep receiving the benefit.
A medical assessment on how your health condition or disability affects your ability to work and this will determine your entitlement to ESA
Your partner’s income and savings will not affect your claim.
You can receive New Style ESA for one year if you are in the work-related activity group or for as long as you require if you are in the support group.
For further information or to start your claim visit the ESA pages on GOV.UK
New Style Jobseeker’s Allowance
New Style Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) is paid based on your national insurance contributions. This should not be confused with Income Based JSA which has now been replaced with Universal Credit.
You can claim Jobseeker's Allowance (JSA) if you are currently unemployed or working under 16 hours per week and are actively able and looking for work.
For further information or to start your claim visit the New Style JSA pages on GOV.UK
Universal Credit is a working age benefit for those who are not working, caring for someone or are on low income.
Universal Credit is replacing:
- Child Tax Credit
- Housing Benefit
- Income Support
- Income-Based Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA)
- Income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
If you currently receive any of these benefits you do not need to do anything unless your circumstances change. The DWP (Department for Work & Pensions) will contact you to move you onto Universal Credit.
For further information or to start your claim visit the Universal Credit pages on GOV.UK
Carer’s Allowance is a weekly benefit paid to you if you spend 35 hours a week or more caring for someone. The person you care for must be in receipt of either:
- Attendance Allowance (any rate).
- Disability Living Allowance - care component at the middle or higher rate.
- Personal Independence Payment - daily living component, at either rate.
Carers Allowance is not means tested and so is not affected by savings or some other forms of income. It is not affected by any of your partner income or savings.
Claiming Carers Allowance can sometimes affect the benefits of the person you are caring for. You can request advice from our Benefits Team before you start your claim.
For further information or to start your claim visit the Carers Allowance pages on GOV.UK
Pension Credit is a means-tested benefit for older people who have a low income and have reached the qualifying State Pension Age. Pension Credit is means-tested, so how much you get will depend on your personal circumstances and the level of your savings and other income.
Pension Credit is made of two elements, and it is possible to qualify for one or both:
- Guaranteed Credit - is designed to top up your income to a minimum level. It ensures that you receive a certain level of income coming in that you (or you and a partner) can live on.
- Savings Credit - is designed to reward people who have saved some money for their retirement. It provides an extra amount based on the level of your other income or savings. To claim this part of Pension Credit, you must have reached State Pension Age before April 2016.
For further information or to start your claim visit the Pension Credit pages on GOV.UK
Challenge a benefit decision (Mandatory Reconsideration)
If your benefit claim is turned down or you disagree with a decision about your benefit award, you can challenge this decision by asking for a mandatory reconsideration.
In some cases, you may not need to ask for a mandatory reconsideration and can make an appeal straight away. Check your decision letter to see if this applies to you.
You must request a mandatory reconsideration within 1 month of the date on your decision letter. You can do this by phone, by letter or by filling in and returning a form. You will find these details on your decision letter.
You will need to explain why you feel the decision is wrong. If you can, provide evidence to support your arguments.
Following this you will get a “mandatory reconsideration notice” telling you the outcome. If you disagree with the outcome of the mandatory reconsideration you can appeal further.
Appeal a benefit decision
An appeal can be made by letter, although it is better to use an approved form. If you get a mandatory reconsideration notice it will state what form you need to use and where you can get this from.
If appealing a DWP or HMRC decision you must include a copy of your mandatory reconsideration notice and any written statement of reasons you may have.
An appeal form will ask whether you wish to attend a tribunal in person. It is always best to attend in person if you can do so. This provides you with an opportunity to explain your case in your own words. It is also a form of evidence that can be vital to a successful case.
It is vital that extra or supporting evidence has been sought or provided since the original decision. If this doesn’t happen, it is likely that the same decision will be made.
Your appeal request must normally be received by HM Courts and Tribunal Service within one month of the date on the mandatory reconsideration notice.
Once your appeal is received, a further decision by DWP can be made. If you disagree, then you can appeal further. Arrangements will then be made to hear your appeal.
If you have opted to attend a tribunal, you will receive a letter informing you of the date, time and venue of the tribunal. You will be given 14 days’ notice of the date unless you have told them that you are happy to accept less. The letter will also provide information about reimbursing your travel and other expenses.
If in exceptional circumstances you need to postpone the tribunal, you should request this in writing. Do not presume your request has been accepted until you have had confirmation.
You can attend the tribunal with a representative as well as a companion for support.
The tribunal is made up of a judge and possibly one or two other people, depending on the type of appeal.
The appeal is decided at a tribunal hearing. You will get your decision by post after the tribunal. You may get a decision on the day if you go to the tribunal in person.
If you wish to appeal further following a Tribunals decision, you can appeal to the Upper Tribunal but only if there is an error of law.
It is worth seeking advice from our Benefits Team if you are looking to appeal to the Upper Tribunal
If you can't find what you're looking for online, or you would like specific advice from the Council’s Benefits Team, you can request benefits advice using the form below and we will contact you to discuss your needs.
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