From Monday 7 March Calderdale Council will introduce a new improved on line application form, for people who wish to claim help with their rent and/or Council Tax.
All new claims must be completed using these electronic forms which will be available at http://www.calderdale.gov.uk/v2/residents/council-tax-and-benefits/benefits. Reporting changes in circumstance will also be available online soon
Calderdale Council currently processes around 8,000 Housing Benefit and Council Tax Reduction applications each year.
Previously the majority of these claims had to be processed through paper claim forms which could be time-consuming for both customers and for Council staff to input onto the benefits system.
The new process will make it easier for customers to apply, and will also free up staff time, meaning efforts can be concentrated more on those people that need extra support or help. This will also realise a significant saving for the Council, with anticipated savings over three years of approximately £250,000.
The Library Service can offer support to those who currently do not have the digital skills to get online. People can book a session to learn the IT skills needed to use the new benefits system and take advantage of the wider opportunities that computer use can bring.
Libraries also provide free internet access, either through the library computers or through the free Wi-Fi network for other devices. Claimants requiring benefits advice and support can do this at the Council’s Customer First offices.
Calderdale Council’s Cabinet Member for Communities, Cllr Steve Sweeney, said:
“This new, improved way of applying for benefits will make it easier and quicker for people to register a new claim. It will also provide a significant saving and meet people’s increasing expectation to be able to do things online in a place and at a time that suits them.
“We appreciate that not everyone claiming will have easy access to a computer or digital device, but we’re working with the libraries service to promote digital skills and offer easy access to internet networks. Plus our Customer First offices are always there to help people with their applications.”