In Scotland, one in four children live in poverty with some areas in Angus amongst the most income deprived areas in Scotland.
As part of the Council Plan’s aim to maximise inclusion and reduce inequalities in the communities of Angus, the Welfare Rights Service looked at how the council could best serve the people of Angus to deliver high quality free advice on a range of welfare and money advice matters.
The team wanted to ensure that they were reaching as many people as possible through the use of digital services for those able to access them, in turn freeing up more time to help the most vulnerable people in Angus with more complex needs. The result was the introduction of an online benefits calculator which launched in May 2019.
The online benefits calculator helps residents find out what benefits they can claim. It’s free to use, available 24 hours a day, seven days a week and only takes ten minutes. Results are anonymous and the council doesn’t hold any personal data.
Residents are encouraged to use the tool to find out what they could be claiming for – it’s a common misconception that benefits are only for those who are out of work. As a result across the UK, millions of people are missing out on money they're entitled to.
There’s also a ‘better-off calculator so people can see how their entitlements could be impacted if their personal circumstances change, for example their work hours change, or they start work.
Since its launch in May, the calculator has used to confirm current awards and identify unclaimed benefits of £7.43 million. By helping to maximise the household income of low income families, this helps to take pressure off of household budgets and promotes greater financial inclusion and capability.
The team is now looking to add in live webchat functionality which would free up more time from the telephones.
For more information, you can access the benefits calculator here.