Our Advice and Support Team works within the Rent and Income service. The aim of this team is to help customers maximise their income. To do so, officers work with residents to ensure they are receiving the correct benefits. They also offer budgeting advice, and support customers to move into work. Before the pandemic, members of the team would work from Job Centre Plus and Citizens Advice to make it easier for customers to get help.
Lisa Arnott is an Advice and Support Officer. Day to day, she works with customers to help improve their financial situation. She told us about one of the customers she has supported since 2013:
“One customer approached the Advice and Support Team for welfare benefit advice following the death of her husband. The couple had received advice from us in the past, and she felt confident that the service could support her again.
“When the customer contacted us, she was worried about how she would pay her rent, council tax, and day-to-day living costs. Her situation was made worse by poor mental and physical health, and she had no digital access skills to navigate the online welfare system.
“I provided intensive support over a period of two months. This ranged from telephone calls and face-to-face meetings, to emails and assisted digital support. I also worked in partnership with other agencies and services to ensure the customer received maximum support.
“After speaking with the customer, I carried out a comprehensive welfare benefit check and offered both working and pension age benefit advice, as she was nearing retirement age. Following this, I helped her to apply for financial support, which included DWP Bereavement Support Payment and Northumbrian Water Reduced Tariff Award.
“The customer was able to save £1597 annually, and she was awarded an immediate payment of £3200 to help pay for her husband’s funeral. We also ensured she received the monthly benefits to which she was entitled, which greatly improved her financial situation.”
This service is available to any customer needing support. If you think we could help you, please contact the Advice and Support Team on 0191 433 6161.
Pictured: Advice and Support Officer Lisa Arnott.