New online tool aims to help people in Leicester be better off

Posted on Wednesday, May 25, 2022

A NEW benefits calculator and budgeting tool has been launched to help people in Leicester manage their finances and minimize the impact of the cost of living crisis.

BetterOff Leicester, a simple new online tool, will help people ensure they claim all the benefits they are entitled to, including Universal Credit and local tax relief or support schemes.

It contains links to ways to apply for benefits online, as well as information on how to find and apply for local jobs.

BetterOff Leicester’s budgeting tool will also help users coming into work to easily see a realistic assessment of their take home pay.

The city’s deputy mayor for poverty reduction, Cllr Sarah Russell, said: ‘A key feature of BetterOff Leicester is that it will help people easily assess whether changing jobs will improve them. We know this is vitally important information for people.

“It is also essential that the people of Leicester claim all the benefits to which they are entitled, especially as the cost of living crisis hits. An online check with BetterOff Leicester will help ensure people are getting the help they need.

It is estimated that currently around £100million in benefits may go unclaimed to people living in the city.

The city council has specialist benefits counselors as well as staff working with Children’s Services and in the Tenant and Resident Support Service (STAR) who can help local residents apply for benefits.

Together the City Council, Citizens Advice LeicesterShire and Community Advice and Law Service Leicester (CALS) have helped residents claim £10.8million in benefits in 2021.

Cllr Russell added: “BetterOff Leicester is designed to be simple to use, but we recognize that not everyone has the digital skills they need to complete online job or benefits applications. We work closely with the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), Citizens’ Advice LeicesterShire, CALS and other charities and local organizations in Leicester to ensure that people can use BetterOff Leicester regardless of their circumstances.

“That’s why professionals will be able to help people complete their BetterOff Leicester calculation, using a unique code that helps ensure the security of personal information.

“We also work very hard with our own library and adult learning services to give people the support they need to improve their digital skills so they can do more online.”

BetterOff Leicester officially launched on Tuesday 24th May with a unique introductory event at the Stocking Farm Community Shop. The City Council supported the Community Shop by letting it a vacant building in Marwood Road at peppercorn rent, and also provided funding of £150,000 to support its establishment.

Specialist advisers from the DWP, who run sessions at Leicester libraries, also visited the store to offer advice and help with finding a job.

In the future, Community Shop staff will be able to direct customers to nearby locations where they can get assistance with benefits and use BetterOff Leicester.

Leicester City Council has also launched a new anti-poverty website, explaining how Leicester is responding to poverty and bringing together links to resources in one place.

Aimed primarily at professionals who work with people in need, it includes national and local data, information about the council’s approach and goals, and details about the council’s intention to address poverty as part of of a long-term strategy. It will be based on the actions of partner organizations across the city.

Cllr Russell added: “This website is an excellent resource for anyone working with people at risk of poverty. It describes the work we are doing locally to help solve what we all unfortunately know to be a huge national, if not international, problem.

“We are determined to work innovatively and closely with our partners to ensure that the lives of the people of Leicester are not marred by poverty. This website reflects that determination and looks at practical things professionals can do right now to help local people in need.

The website can be accessed at leicester.gov.uk/anti-poverty

To find out more about help during the cost of living crisis, visit leicester.gov.uk/benefits

To use BetterOff Leicester, visit leicester.gov.uk/betteroff

(ENDS)

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