£2.7million extra funding for older and disabled people in Northumberland
Staff at Northumberland County Council helped secure an extra £2.7million for older and disabled residents during the last year.
This eye-opening figure, which in turn boosted the county’s economy by an estimated £4.7million, was revealed as part of the 2018-19 report of the authority’s welfare rights team.
The small team provides staff in adult services, children’s services and the voluntary and community sector with training and access to a telephone advice line, as well as targeted direct support to people with social-care needs in complex cases, including appeals.
At Tuesday’s (July 2) meeting of the council’s health and wellbeing committee, Keith Thompson, the rights team manager, emphasised that as well as the financial boost, the team’s work can help people to live independently and reduce the involvement of council and health services.
In terms of the future, his covering report says: ‘As has been the case for several years, looking forwards, the next few years are expected to see the continuing impact of ongoing fundamental changes to the benefits system.
‘It is crucial, for the well-being of vulnerable and disabled people in the county, and also for the county’s wider economy and the council’s own finances, to make sure that Northumberland residents receive the support they need to cope with changes to their income through ongoing implementation of welfare reform.
‘The welfare rights team will continue to provide expert support and training to front-line staff across agencies and work to promote a wider network of benefits advice services.
‘It will also contribute to the wider programme of work needed across the council and its partners to address the challenges arising from changes to benefits, including the continuing roll-out of Universal Credit in Northumberland, and the impact which these major changes will have on the county’s population and on council services.’
Coun Veronica Jones, the cabinet member for adult health and wellbeing, said: “This report shows the great work by a very small team providing a real service to the people of Northumberland.”