Southend Borough Council is launching a campaign to ensure residents who receive housing benefit are receiving the correct amount.
Bus stop advertisements, posters and social media posts will remind housing benefit recipients to notify the Council of any change in circumstances that may affect the amount of housing benefit they are entitled to.
Cllr Andrew Moring, Executive Councillor for Corporate and Community Support, said: “This activity is part of a central Government drive to ensure that money set aside for welfare support is protected and used in the best way possible for the residents of Southend and nationally.
“If there is a change in your circumstances, this can affect your entitlement to housing benefit. Some residents could be missing out on housing benefit that they are entitled to while others might unknowingly be receiving more than their entitlement and could be building up a large overpayment that they might struggle to repay. In some situations, residents could be fined or prosecuted if they do not tell their local council about changes that will affect their housing benefit claim.
“That’s why it’s always best to tell the Council immediately of any change of circumstances. If you are unsure if the information the Council has about you is up-to-date, then sign up to My Southend and check online. It will give you peace of mind and help you manage your finances.”
Some of the changes in circumstances the Housing Benefit team needs to know about include:
· Changes in the number of people in your household and any income they receive
· Changes in your earnings
· Changes in any of the benefits received
· Changes to pensions
· Changes in savings
· Changes in the amount of rent you are charged
· Taking in a lodger or a boarder into your property
· Starting college
· Moving to a new home
To ensure that recipients are receiving the right amount, the Council’s Housing Benefits team will be contacting residents in receipt of Housing Benefit to see if there have been any changes that could mean receiving more or less benefit.
It is easy to report a change. Visit www.southend.gov.uk/reviews and use the online Change of Circumstances form through the Council’s interactive MySouthend facility. If you are not registered to use MySouthend, it is quick and simple to register. Once your account is activated and linked, you will be able to have access to:
· Council Tax bills
· Housing Benefit and Council Tax Reduction notifications
· Payment details
· Payment history
· Online forms to apply for help and to report changes in circumstances
If you do not have access to the internet, you can visit the Customer Service Centre in the Civic Centre on Victoria Avenue and use the self-serve suite to create a MySouthend account and report your change in circumstances. Opening hours of the Customer Service Centre is 8.45am to 5.15pm Monday to Friday. There is also a scanning desk where you can supply proof of your change in circumstance. Opening hours are 10am-2pm Monday to Friday.
Alternatively, if you need extra support, you can visit the Hub in Victoria Shopping Centre for guidance and support on creating a MySouthend account and accessing our online services.
Internet access is also available at the Borough’s libraries.