Team helps South Tyneside households gain £4.6million in unpaid benefits

People facing financial challenges in South Tyneside have been urged to come forward and seek support as council chiefs reveal they recovered a total of £4.6million in unclaimed benefits for residents.

The team involved in getting the much-needed cash into people’s pockets offers advice and support to all residents of the borough.

The Welfare Support Team also manages the council’s crisis support scheme which can provide assistance to residents facing serious financial hardship as well as community care grants to help applicants needing to access unaffordable housing goods and furniture.

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South Tyneside Council said members of the team offer a free, confidential welfare benefits and debt advice service to help residents navigate the benefits system to ensure they are receiving the help they are entitled to. The team also helps people recover benefits at appeal which have been stopped by the Department of Work and Pensions.

Households are being reminded support is available.

Last year the team helped residents write-off or manage £672,000 of debt, allowing people to spend their money on essential living costs instead of throwing it at bad debt.

The news comes during Talk Money Week, which runs from November 7 to 11. It is a campaign which encourages people to open up about their finances.

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Councillor Ruth Berkley, Lead Member for the Voluntary Sector, Partnerships and Equalities, said: “For many people experiencing debt troubles, it is incredibly difficult for them to open up about their worries. Yet research shows that people who talk about money make better financial decisions, have stronger personal relationships, help their children form good money habits and are less stressed and feel more in control.

“We know the cost of living crisis is making life so much harder for many of our residents.

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"However, Many people don’t realise that they are entitled to benefits. For example, 3.4 million pensioners in this country miss out on attendance allowance.

“I’d encourage anyone struggling with their finances to contact the Welfare Support Team. In these difficult times it’s good to know this team is at hand to help and will support you all the way.”

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The team offers face-to-face, telephone or home visits appointments. To contact the team, call 0191 424 6040 or email [email protected]