Residents claiming financial assistance in Lewisham will be introduced to a new paperless system on 8th February.
People who make a claim for Housing or Council Tax benefits will be able to call up a benefits assessor but will also have the option of making an appointment to see someone face to face.
According to the council, there will be no paperwork for claimants to complete, making it more straight-forward. They can also find out immediately whether their claim has been successful.
Councillor Susan Wise, cabinet member for Customer Services, said: “This new system means that residents will be able to talk over their claim directly with a benefits advisor and receive expert advice and help. They’ll be able to ask questions, and get the right answers for their circumstances and find out straight away where they stand.”
Housing benefit is available for people who are receiving income support, Jobseeker’s Allowance or employment support allowance. It is also available for people on pension credit and low income individuals. This helps people in paying the rent to the council, a housing association or a private landlord.
The council tax is a local property tax set up by councils to help pay for the local services. Council tax benefit applies when people on low income need help in paying the council tax bill.
Adam Veall, chartered accountant, said: “This was inevitable considering that technology has become imperative for the operation of a smooth and transparent claims system, provided that the bottlenecks are identified and removed in the transition period”.