A new campaign 'When life changes, your benefits change too' has been launched to ensure that residents are in receipt of their correct benefit entitlement.
Hertsmere Borough Council is reminding local people who claim Housing Benefit or Council Tax support to report any changes in their circumstances, as it could affect their benefits.
As part of this campaign, the council will be proactively managing claims, introducing lifestyle and financial triggers to predict the likelihood of an overpayment. A pilot scheme will involve sending a review text message, email or an officer making a call to claimants, informing them that their benefit needs to be reviewed and encouraging them to report any changes in circumstances online.
Matthew Bunyon, Head of Finance and Business Services, said: “So many things can affect your benefits – moving house, having a baby, pension changes, people moving into or out of your home to name just a few. Changes can mean your benefits go up as well as down.
“Our advice is to please let us know as soon as something changes so we can adjust your payments. It can be very worrying to find out you have been overpaid and have to pay that money back. Equally, it is frustrating to miss out on benefits that you would otherwise be entitled to. We want to make sure that you are in receipt of your correct benefit entitlement.”
The review message will encourage residents to visit www.hertsmere.gov.uk/ccp
to complete an online ‘change in circumstances’ form. Residents will not be asked to provide any personal details through the text message, email or over the telephone.
“At no point will the council ask for any personal details, such as your name, benefit reference number or bank details,” adds Matthew. “So, continue to be vigilant and never give out these details to somebody on the phone, via text message or email. Our message is simply asking you to go to our website and complete a change of circumstances form if your personal situation has changed.”
Changes in circumstances which can affect Housing Benefit and Council Tax Support include:
• Income changes, such as changes in earnings, employer, pension, tax credits and state benefits.
• Changes in savings, investments and other capital.
• Changes to child care costs.
• Child Benefit stopping for a dependent.
• Rent changes.
• Change of address.
• If a partner or any other person moves in or out of your household.
• If you have any additions to your family.
• If you or your partner are away from home for more than four weeks.
Previously, the council wrote to recipients asking them to check their details. By taking a modern, customer-focussed approach to communication, it will make it easier for people to update us.
The aim is to ensure that:
• Residents are paid their correct Housing Benefit entitlement.
• Housing Benefit overpayments are reduced.
• Processing times are improved.
• The review process is less stressful for the customer and more efficient for the council.
For more information and to notify us about any changes visit our 'change of circumstances' page
We will be reminding residents to tell us about any changes in their circumstances through our social media channels. Like us on Facebook/Hertsmere or follow us on Twitter @HertsmereBC. You can also subscribe to receive our FREE e-alerts 'News for You' for regular reminders and information. Subscribe by clicking on the purple 'News for You' button on our website
Posted on Monday 8th January 2018