New service launched for Scots to calculate benefits entitlement
A new service has been launched for Scots to calculate their benefits entitlement in a bid to address the financial hardship facing many families.
The online tool is the first to fully integrate devolved benefits, including the new Scottish Child Payment which opens next week.
The calculator has been produced by Scotland’s national advice service, Advice Direct Scotland, and data analytics developer Inbest, having been brought together by the organisation FinTech Scotland.
It provides a free and impartial assessment of entitlement to a range of benefits such as Universal Credit, crisis grants and support payments.
The launch follows an 87% increase in Scotland’s claimant count between December 2019 and December last year – up from 110,705 to 207,180 – largely caused by the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
The UK Government has not published figures on uptake of Universal Credit, but it is estimated that hundreds of millions of pounds in benefits goes unclaimed every year.
A new devolved benefit, the Scottish Child Payment, will start on February 15 for parents or carers on low incomes who have a child under six.
The Scottish Government is maximising uptake of the new payment, and it is hoped the new tool will further assist with this. The new calculator can be found at advice.scot.
Andrew Bartlett, chief executive of Advice Direct Scotland, said: “The coronavirus pandemic has been a challenging time for everyone. Local and national lockdowns and restrictions, reduction in working hours and loss of employment, as well as changes to the way we carry out our daily activities, mean that many of us are feeling the strain.
“People still have bills to pay, and reduction or loss of income can mean difficult decisions and hardship for families across Scotland. There are sources of financial support available, including benefits and grants, but understanding what is available, and individual entitlement, can be a daunting experience.
“Our passion is to use innovative new technology to empower the people we serve.
“The Advice Direct Scotland and Inbest benefits calculator is designed to provide guidance to Scots who are currently struggling to understand their entitlement to Universal Credit and other benefits and will help ensure everyone is aware of what they can claim.”
Manuel Peleteiro, founder and chief executive of Inbest, added: “We believe that collaboration with fellow mission-driven business is fundamental to help people access their benefits and build their financial resilience.
“We are delighted to work with Advice Direct Scotland to raise the awareness of all the benefits and grants available for Scottish citizens.”