Highland Council encourages people to claim benefits they're entitled to
29th September 2017
Highland Council is supporting the Scottish Government's campaign to raise awareness of how people can find out if they are eligible for benefits and to apply for them.
A week-long series of radio and press adverts are running to highlight the range of support available from social security, such as the Sure Start Maternity Grant, Carers Allowance and the Funeral Expenses Payment.
It is estimated that more than 500,000 cases of individuals or families in Scotland may not be claiming benefits they are entitled to.
Highland Council Leader Cllr Margaret Davidson who is Chair of the Council's Poverty and Inequalities Working Group says the social security system exists to help those in need and on low incomes and when their personal circumstances change, and that people should not be worried about claiming what they are entitled to. One of the key messages of the benefits campaign is that ‘It’s yours claim it.’
Cllr Davidson said:"Claiming the benefits that people are entitled to will help maximise family incomes and can reduce poverty levels. For example, around a third of pensioners are entitled to Pension Credit but do not claim it. We want to help people to know what financial support is available that could make a difference to their lives.
"We also know that personal circumstances can change very quickly - whether it’s losing a job, a family bereavement, becoming a carer for a family member, or having a child. But often we don’t realise that changes in our lives can mean we are entitled to additional support and that there is a range of benefits all of us are entitled to know about.
“Many of us will need that financial support at some point in our lives, whether we’re in work or not. So we all have stake in ensuring everyone is looked after properly and the social security system exists to help and support those who need it, when they need it."
The Scottish Government is working with the Citizens Advice service in Scotland, who is providing a dedicated web page with all available information on benefits and tax credits, eligibility and how to access them at:
...as well as a freephone benefits helpline (0800 085 7145).
The campaign features Colette, who is registered blind and also cares for her son. She says there are several benefits available that people don’t realise they can receive, and urges people to contact Citizens Advice or their local council.
Colette said: “This support gives you the independent living that everybody is entitled to in the first place. For example, it can help you get the equipment you need that makes your life easier."
It is estimated that in 2014/15, for tax credits and the main income-related benefits, there could more over 500,000 cases of individuals and families not claiming the benefits they were entitled to.
The Scottish Government is taking over responsibility for 11 benefits under new devolved powers. It is creating a new social security agency, with its headquarters in Dundee and local offices throughout Scotland.
The Highland Council and its Commercial and Procurement Shared Services partners Aberdeen City and Aberdeenshire Councils are running a series of events to help businesses supply to the public sector. Some of the events are hosted by other organisations and we will be signposting suppliers to these as well.
Leader of the Highland Council, Margaret Davidson has moved to reassure communities about forthcoming budget decisions. She said: "No decisions will be made until the Council meets on 15 February.
At Highland Council work has been ongoing for some months to prepare a Revenue and Capital Budget for 2018/19 and beyond, with the anticipation of a significant cut to available funds. The Scottish Government's proposed grant settlement was announced on 14 December 2017.
Around £3 million of funding has been agreed for a ground-breaking Highland project that could transform the lives of people with complex health needs as part of the Inverness and Highland City Region Deal. The business case for the ‘FitHome' assisted living project was approved in November last year with £3m funding from the Scottish Government.
An article in the Press and Journal today 9th January 2018 highlights the cuts in staffing levels across Scottish councils with Highland being one of the highest. In 2009 Highland had 9953 Full-time Equivalent Staff and in 2017 it had dropped by 21% to 7838.
Highland Council Trading Standards team has recently seen an increase in scams targeting Highland businesses. The most common scams reported by businesses relate to marketing and publishing but other frauds such as those involving demands for payment for unsolicited goods sent to businesses (such as ink cartridges which were never ordered) are also on the rise.
Cognitive improvements to be included in Blue Badge scheme The disabled person's parking badge pilot, which was launched in April 2016, has been made permanent by the Scottish Government. The eligibility criteria were revised and extended under a pilot to allow carers and relatives of people who pose a risk to themselves or others in traffic to apply for a disabled person's parking badge, provided they meet the criteria.
People looking to pick up a New Year bargain in the sales on the internet, by mail order or on the high street are being encouraged by The Highland Council's Trading Standards team to be aware of their consumer rights and to stay safe online from scams and fake websites that try to dupe inexperienced online shoppers trying to buy a bargain. Consumers have extra protection when they shop online.
The British Hospitality Association secured a major victory today (21 December2017) as the Scottish Government confirmed that any plans for a ‘tourist tax' in Edinburgh - or any other Scottish cities - are firmly off the table. The BHA has been campaigning consistently for over six years against the implementation of any such additional and uncompetitive tax and is delighted that the Scottish Government has recognised our reservations.
Chief Executive of The Highland Council, Steve Barron said: "The Council is continuing to do all it can to support employees who lost their jobs following the change in contract for the processing of recycled waste. Evanton-based William Munro Construction laid off the staff after Highland Council transferred a recycling contract.
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