A NEW benefits calculator and budgeting tool has been launched to help Leicester people manage their finances and minimise the impact of the cost of living crisis.
BetterOff Leicester, a new simple online tool, will help people to ensure that they are claiming all the benefits they are entitled to, including Universal Credit and local council tax support or reduction schemes.
It links to ways to apply for benefits online, as well as providing information on how to find, and apply for, local jobs.
BetterOff Leicester’s budgeting tool will also help users who are moving into work to easily see a realistic assessment of their take-home pay.
Deputy city mayor for anti-poverty, Cllr Sarah Russell, said: “A key feature of BetterOff Leicester is it will help people to easily assess if moving jobs will make them better off. We know this is vitally important information for people to have.
“It’s also essential that people in Leicester claim all the benefits that they are entitled to, especially as the cost of living crisis hits. An online check with BetterOff Leicester will help to ensure people are getting the help they need.”
It’s estimated that currently around £100m in benefits could be going unclaimed to people living in the city.
The city council has specialist benefits advisors as well as staff working with children’s services and in the Supporting Tenants and Residents (STAR) service that can help local people with benefits claims.
Together, the city council, Citizens Advice LeicesterShire and the Community Advice and Law Service Leicester (CALS) helped local people claim £10.8m of benefits in 2021.
Cllr Russell added: “BetterOff Leicester is designed to be simple to use, but we recognise that not everyone has the digital skills they need to complete online applications for jobs or benefits. We’re working very closely with the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), Citizens’ Advice LeicesterShire, CALS and other local charities and organisations in Leicester to ensure people can use BetterOff Leicester whatever their circumstances.
“That’s why professionals will be able to help people fill in their BetterOff Leicester calculation, using a unique code that helps to ensure personal information is kept safe.
“We’re also working very hard with our own library and adult learning services to give people the support they need to improve their digital skills so that they can do more online.”
BetterOff Leicester was officially launched on Tuesday (24 May) at a special one-off introductory event at the Community Shop in Stocking Farm. The city council has supported the Community Shop by leasing it a vacant building in Marwood Road for a peppercorn rent, and also provided £150,000 in funding to support its set-up.
Specialist advisors from the DWP, who hold sessions across Leicester’s libraries, also visited the shop to offer advice and help on job-seeking.
In the future, Community Shop staff will be able to signpost customers to nearby locations where they can get benefits support and use BetterOff Leicester.
Leicester City Council has also launched a new anti-poverty website, setting out how Leicester is responding to poverty and gathering together links to resources all in one place.
Aimed mainly at professionals who work with people in need, it includes national and local data, information on the council’s approach and objectives, and details of the council’s intention to tackle poverty as part of a long-term strategy. It will be built upon to include the actions of partner organisations across the city.
Cllr Russell added: “This website is an excellent resource for anyone who works with people at risk of poverty. It sets out the work we are doing locally to help tackle what we all know is sadly a huge national – and indeed international – issue.
“We are determined to work innovatively and closely with our partners to make sure people’s lives in Leicester are not blighted by poverty. This website reflects that determination and looks at practical things professionals can do right now to help people locally who are 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