The way that benefit applications are made will soon become easier and more efficient as a new electronic way of claiming for both Housing Benefit and Council Tax Reduction is being introduced.
Following approval at Cabinet, the Council is now introducing a new way to claim online, using e-forms and an online verification system
Calderdale Council currently processes around 10,000 Housing Benefit and Council Tax Reduction claims each year. In addition, around 80,000 changes in circumstances are reported. These claims are currently processed through hard copy claim forms which can be time consuming for both customers and for Council staff to input onto the benefits system. By introducing an electronic way of claiming it will eliminate the need for these forms as new claims could be made online via e-forms.
The new process would make it easier for customers to report a change in their circumstances or to make a claim, and would also free up staff time, meaning efforts could be concentrated more on those people that need extra support or help. It would also realise a significant saving for the Council, with anticipated savings over three years of approximately £250,000.
It’s planned that all new claims for Housing Benefit and Council Tax Reduction benefits will be assessed electronically. The libraries service will be supporting those who currently do not have digital skills to get online, not only to help with the new benefits system, but to learn other digital skills and take advantage of the opportunities this brings. They will 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 still do this at the Council’s Customer First offices.
It’s anticipated that this new way of claiming will be available within the next few months, but more information will be available closer to the time.
Calderdale Council’s Cabinet Member for Communities, Cllr Steve Sweeney, said:
“The introduction of this new way of claiming will not only save money, but it would also 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 to help people move across to the new system once it is introduced. Plus our Customer First offices are always there to help.”