A BENEFITS study in two Middlesbrough suburbs has revealed almost £100,000 of entitlements going unclaimed.
The project could now be rolled out across the town, ranked eighth across the country in the index of multiple deprivation, following the results of the ‘It’s your right to claim’ campaign.
Money experts spent a week in Coulby Newham and Hemlington in March when they spoke to 1,000 people which flagged up 52 potential new claims for help.
Along with a number of follow-up calls made to Middlesbrough Citizen Advice Bureau it is estimated that £93,200 in unclaimed benefits has been identified to assist these residents.
Councillor Tracy Harvey, Middlebrough Council’s executive lead for welfare reform, said: “It may well be that we have only scratched the service and we will now need to look at rolling this project out across Middlesbrough.
“This campaign is about removing any stigma attached to welfare and letting people know what their circumstances entitle them to.
“The amount of money we have found going unclaimed in such a short space of time is a real eye-opener and shows this is an important issue that we need to tackle.”
Latest statistics show 24 per cent of householders in the town claim disability benefit and 7.5 per cent are in receipt of Jobseekers’ Allowance.
Nationally, up to 620,000 people are to claim up to £2bn in income support, and employment and support allowance.
John Daniels, Manager of Middlesbrough Citizen’s Advice Bureau, said: “Many people in Middlesbrough are finding it difficult to make ends meet.
“At a time when household expenses like gas and electricity seem to be constantly rising, it is important that local people receive all the income to which they are entitled. Campaigns like this are a useful way of ensuring that happens.”
New intensive measures to help the long-term unemployed into work were launched this week.
The new scheme 'Help to Work' will give Jobcentre staff a new range of options to support the hardest to help get off benefits and into work.
New initiatives include intensive coaching, a requirement to meet with the Jobcentre Plus adviser every day, or taking part in a community work placement for up to six months.