£645k for 90 struggling households thanks to life-saving service

Tuesday December 5th 2023

Melville's WBA Team

Melville Housing Association’s two dedicated Welfare Benefits Advisers John Scott (left) and Barry Smith.

Written by Midlothian View Reporter, Luke Jackson

90 struggling households from across the Lothians, Edinburgh and Lanarkshire are £645k better off thanks to the hard work of a life-saving welfare benefits advice service.

Melville Housing Association’s two dedicated Welfare Benefits Advisers helped tenants claim benefits worth almost £645,564 over the previous financial year. This works out an average of nearly £7,200 for each of the 90 households, and represents a more than 50% increase on the previous year (when tenants claimed £408,464).

In one exceptional case the team worked for months helping an elderly couple fund the care and treatment they needed, resulting in payments totalling almost £15,000 per year, plus a backdated one-off payment of £3,674, lifting their financial worries and significantly easing their anxiety at a very difficult time.

“The service I get from Melville is always good and the help and support I get for my benefits is always brilliant,” said one service user. “They do everything possible to get the best outcome in whatever they may be involved in on your behalf and always do it to the best of their ability.”

Feedback for the highly-experienced team, made up of John Scott and newest member Barry Smith, is overwhelmingly positive with customer satisfaction levels of 100%. Service users also said it helped with their mental health, leaving them less anxious and stressed.

“These results are fantastic, and a real testament to the hard work and dedication of our welfare advice team,” said Jane Burnett, Melville’s Head of Housing. “While it’s no secret that times are really tough for a lot of people just now and the demands on the service are considerable, it’s also no exaggeration to say that this help can be life-saving, and it’s the positive impact it can have on people’s mental health that can be just as important as the money. Sadly we only expect to see demand for the service increase over the coming year.”

In addition to providing tenants with confidential help to claim benefits to which they are entitled, advisers also support those appealing incorrect decisions as well as providing help with energy bills.

Melville tenants who need benefits advice should visit www.melville.org.uk or phone 0131 654 2733 and speak to the housing section. Help is also available from independent organisations such as Citizen’s Advice.

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