Southwark in benefits drive

Southwark council has launched a PR campaign to tell residents to collect the benefits they are entitled to after research revealed that around £1m in entitlements goes unclaimed every year in the London borough.

The research was carried out as part of the council’s anti-poverty strategy and it hopes that encouraging residents to collect benefits will help alleviate poverty.

‘Some families could be missing out on up to £140 a week in help with childcare costs and some pensioners could be entitled to between £20 and £40 extra a week,’ said a council spokeswoman.

The 12-month campaign will kick off by targeting older people, who will be encouraged to take up pension credits, and working families who could be eligible for tax credits and help with childcare costs.

It will then diversify to include lone parents and disabled people who are unemployed, who will be offered advice on how they can take up employment while still claiming benefits if needed.

A hotline has been set up and two roving ‘benefits champions’ have been employed to give advice and help with filling in forms. A ‘benefits bus’ will bring advice and information to neighbourhoods and campaign posters will also be circulated.

The campaign will also publicise cheap credit deals and other financial services available, reducing the cost of cashing cheques, paying bills and borrowing money for the estimated one in five Southwark households who do not have a bank account.

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