Are you struggling with your benefit claims?
Are you affected by any of the following?
- a mental health condition or learning disability
- a condition affecting cognition (such as autism, or Asperger’s Syndrome)
- drug or alcohol dependency
- complex needs due to personal circumstances (such as literacy or communication difficulties) or a life event
Did you know that special rules (or safeguards) are built into the benefits system to protect claimants with the above health conditions or with complex needs to help make the process a little easier to manage?
Many people struggle with the benefits system, with all its complicated rules and processes. When these go wrong, it can leave some claimants in hardship, struggling to cope and in difficult financial situations. The safeguards aim to protect you in the event of problems with your claim/s by ensuring that the DWP and local authority are aware of your circumstances. The safeguards should be observed before suspending your benefit payments.
What Royal Greenwich are doing to help
We are encouraging you to complete a simple safeguarding alert which will help ensure that:
- the relevant benefit authorities (including the council and the DWP) know about your health conditions/situation so that necessary adjustments can be made and extra protections put in place for you
- your support worker (or other appropriate person named on the alert) is notified of any problems with claims
- organisations are able to share information about you
The benefits safeguarding alert is recognised by Greenwich Council and Woolwich Jobcentre.
We will take extra steps where there is one present. These include:
- Greenwich Council will contact you before suspending or terminating your benefits and attempt to contact the third party where possible
- The Revenues Service will make every effort to contact you to arrange repayments if you owe money to the Council and will seek to avoid the use of enforcement agents where at all possible
- Woolwich Jobcentre will make every effort to contact you or a third party if you miss an appointment to establish why, and take the benefit safeguarding alert into account with your claimant commitment
- The JCP will also take the benefit safeguarding alert into account in your Universal Credit claimant commitment
John has been on Universal Credit and has a benefits safeguarding alert completed on his claim. This includes details of his support worker. He missed an appointment he was scheduled to attend at Woolwich Jobcentre. His work coach was able to contact his support worker to check if there was a reason why John had missed his appointment, who explained that he had been admitted to hospital. This helped to prevent a sanction being applied to his UC claim.
Fill in a safeguarding alert form
Download and print your safeguarding alert. Try to complete all sections of the form and return it to:
Greenwich Advice & Benefits Service
The Woolwich Centre
35 Wellington Street
London SE18 6HQ
The service will share the alert with other council departments, the DWP and Jobcentre Plus.
What do we do with your data?
The Benefit Safeguarding Alert will be stored on our Benefits system, and other council departments where it is agreed to be shared with them. The DWP will record the safeguarding alert on your benefit claim. You can ask for the Alert to be removed from the system at any time by contacting Advice & Benefits. We will then contact the relevant departments for the alert to also be removed. If you would like the safeguarding alert to be removed from your DWP claim you can also contact the Jobcentre directly.
How long is the alert kept for?
The alert will stay on your claim record for along as it is live or open. If your claim ended you may need to complete another alert; for example, if your Council Tax Support claim ended and you claim again a few months later, you may need to submit a new benefit safeguarding alert.