Friday, 9 August 2013

Is Croydon Giving Full Help To People on Benefits?

There are a number of ways in which pro-active advice by Councils, CABx and other welfare rights/benefits advice organisations can help to ensure that people on benefits are getting the correct amount of money and in relation to private tenants can be helped to reduce expenditure. I attempted to find out what action was being taken through a Freedom of Information request. 
I asked:

In the partnership work between the Council, the CAB and other organisations involved in giving money, debt and budgeting advice, how many households advised in 2012/13:
a.    were not claiming the correct and maximum benefits they were entitled to;b. were being paid less than the minimum wage;c. lived in private rented property where the landlords had not undertaken the maximum energy efficiency measures to reduce heating bills;d.   were living in private rented property where the landlords were not complying with re-sale of electricity, gas and water requirements of the regulators;
e.   were living in private rented property where the landlords had not installed the maximum water efficiency measures possible to keep water meter bills down?f.    did not have the most energy and water efficient white goods which help reduce expenditure? The Council's reply is as follows:

The council does not hold the specific information in response to any of the questions you raise below. Considering your request it may be that the department of works and pensions and regional energy suppliers could be better placed to answer your points.  
 We record a number of statistics to understand the position and then outcomes of those cases the council’s team are supporting and the cases passed between partners.  Those partners will then hold their own further data based on their own service model.

Perhaps the matters contained in my questions should become part of the advice system in Croydon and statistics made available. If such a change is not made before the May Council elections perhaps Labour can include mention in its manifesto, and meanwhile raise the questions in Council discussions.

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