“The adviser didn’t just treat me like another person. I felt that she actually cared and she had by best interests at heart”. This is how one respondent described their experience with Lambeth Council’s Every Pound Counts (EPC) service.
Another said “Knowing that I can call the adviser back and get another appointment matters more than anything else.”
These quotations come from an Ipsos MORI survey into the project, which is run by the council’s Adults and Community Service in partnership with local advice agencies. The EPC service aims to provide a clear source of information to help benefit claimants to ensure they claim for all benefits they are entitled to.
It works with people who are aged 60 years and over, and people who have a disability or long term condition. It also provides help to people who are giving care and support to another person, either an adult with a long term condition or disability, or a child with disabilities.
Respondents explained the dramatic improvements they were able to make to their lives with the extra cash.
More food and better meals were available after EPC help, with one claimant saying, “I can buy better food and feel better” and “I can have a lamb chop once or twice a week if I like, as I can afford it.”
One client revealed, “Because of the money I was getting before I was unable to pay for more food than I have now […] my family wants to eat good food and […] now we have enough.
“I am able to go in a cab for shopping and I sometimes go to see some friends and family.”
They also said they had more money for household bills, with comments such as “leaving my gas heating on is much better” and, “I am a lot more comfortable – [I can] actually live a bit better because you can pay the gas and electric better”.
“Overall, users are extremely positive about their experiences of the Every Pound Counts advisers they came into contact with,” the survey reported.
“Almost all say they found their adviser helpful, while nine in ten believe that advisers explained the process for claiming benefits clearly (96% and 92% respectively).”
Ipsos MORI reported that “very few are negative about their experience of Every Pound Counts advisers: only 3% say that the adviser they spoke to was unhelpful and only 5% say their adviser did not explain the service clearly.”
Every Pound Counts helped improve the financial circumstances “a great deal” for over half of those interviewed, while a further third report that their financial circumstances improved “a fair amount” (56% and 36% respectively).
“The survey confirms the success of Every Pound Counts. These are all benefits to which claimants are entitled, and the personal testimonies contained in the Ipsos MORI survey show how much the extra cash is needed.” said Councillor Jim Dickson, Lambeth cabinet member for health and wellbeing.