Thousands helped to claim benefits by welfare teams

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Thousands of people have been made better off after the county council’s welfare rights service made sure they received the benefits they were entitled to.

It means more than £12m in benefits, which were going unclaimed, are now supporting families with basic living costs like buying food and heating their home.

In the year to March 2015, the welfare rights service helped more than 11,000 people.

One 56-year-old, who has severe depression and arthritis, had claimed Employment Support Allowance and Disability Living Allowance.

She was later diagnosed with lung cancer, but was told she was not entitled to Personal Independence Payment, which is replacing DLA, when she told bosses of the changes.

Eventually, she was referred to welfare rights, and an officer gathered further evidence and the decision was changed. She was awarded the enhanced rates of PIP, and also an increase in her Employment Support Allowance.

She is now just over £200 per week better off.

Joanne Barker, Welfare Rights Service manager, said: “We provide free and confidential help and advice with benefit problems for Lancashire residents.

“We are dealing with some of our most vulnerable people, sometimes when they are going through an extremely worrying time due to losing their job or finding themselves unable to work due to serious illness.

“Many people have no idea what financial support they are entitled to, or have ever claimed a benefit before.

“It is rewarding to be able to help so many people and see the difference the extra money in their pockets makes to their lives.” Contact the welfare rights service on 0300 123 6739.