The elderly and vulnerable in South Devon have suffered a rise in anxiety about benefits and how Government cuts will bite, say a charity which works to support them.
Dartmouth Caring, the charity that supports those in need in the town, has highlighted the advice it offers on benefits claims in response to the fear many of its clients are feeling about cuts to benefits by the Government.
The charity has seen more and more of its client base require advice and help on benefits claims over the last year including housing issues, pension credit and carer’s allowances. It has helped several clients in the last few months appeal successfully against benefits being removed or substantially cut, by proving that decisions against them were unfair.
The staff team at the charity has already been trained in benefits claims and appeals such as Employment Support Allowance, but has been receiving extra training to prepare for the changes in the benefits system the Government is bringing in next year, with the new Universal Credit and Personal Independence Payments. Changes in a large-scale system such as benefits traditionally cause chaos – such as the implementation of Tax Credits a few years ago – and the charity is gearing up for a jump in the number of issues its clients face.
The charity also supports its clients making appropriate appeals against benefits cuts or changes – a long process in many cases.
Manager and coordinator for the charity Alison Stocks, who is one of the trained members of staff, said that the changes in the welfare system were creating problems and confusion for many people who depended on them both young and old.
“We have realised how worried our clients are over the last year, and felt a need to respond with the specialist training,” she said. “So many of our clients are now finding that their benefits are changing in some way. Even if they aren’t losing their benefits, this can be very stressful and we try to advise and help as much as we can.
“If there is anyone in the Dartmouth community who feels worried or confused by a benefits claim, or if you have had your benefits changed or taken away, contact us and we may be able to help.”
Dartmouth Caring can be contacted at their offices in Victoria Square, opposite the Doctors surgery; on the phone; 01803 839354; or via email: firstname.lastname@example.org.