Vale residents helped to secure more than £2 million in extra benefits

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The Vale of Aylesbury Housing Trust has helped residents claim more than £2 million in the past three years in benefits they didn’t realise they were entitled to.

In the week when Chancellor George Osborne announced deep cuts in welfare, the trust is offering to help guide people through their benefit claims.

Advisers from the Vale of Aylesbury Housing Trust, will be on hand during a series of sessions in the new year.

The events are being staged in the run up to next year’s Welfare Reforms, which come into force in April.

In the past three years the trust estimates it has helped Vale residents claim more than £2 million in benefits which families did not realise they were entitled to.

The trust’s Ian Silver said: “We hear the same stories time and time again. People do not claim the benefits they are entitled to because they don’t realise the level at which housing benefit, tax credits or pension credit cut in – or, rather than claim disability allowances, they soldier on.

“These are ordinary people trying to make ends meet. A significant number of the people our welfare team deals with are retired, while one in five are working in low-paid jobs.

“Some invariably get into debt simply by trying to keep up with the normal household bills, like food and heating. Our referrals to food banks has increased rapidly over the last few months.

“The Welfare Reform Act is supposed to simplify the application for and award of benefits, but we are deeply concerned that people will in fact find it more confusing or will underestimate the impact of elements like Bedroom Tax.

“When you are already financially vulnerable, even £10 more or less a week can make a world of difference.”

Sessions start on January 30 at the trust’s Fairfax House in Aylesbury from 1pm.

For a list of all the sessions taking place visit www.vaht.co.uk