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Welfare Rights Team - Annual Report 2023/2024

Welfare Rights Team - Annual Report 2023/24 - Our aim, what we do, who we are

Foreword by the Strategic Lead, Alan Taylor

Tackling Poverty is the No.1 priority for this Council and we, as a team, are aware that household income and income from Social Security is only part of the solution to tackling poverty, however, we are also aware that advice is a fundamental part of the solution. Access to high quality, comprehensive advice and representation regarding welfare benefits is a vital component of any strategy to tackle poverty, not-least because of the increasing complexity of the welfare benefit system over the past 10 years.

As a Local Authority we have a statutory duty to offer and provide income maximisation to certain groups including, but not exclusively; unpaid carers, people who are homeless, households with dependent children and people that are pregnant.

We work with our Partners to ensure that all of our citizens throughout the whole of the Perth & Kinross area have access to benefits advice from pre-birth to end-of-life.

Our Aim

The Aim of the Welfare Rights Team is to provide universal, free, confidential and impartial appeals representation and benefits advice to all residents of Perth and Kinross.

Our objectives

  • Provide a universal, free, confidential and impartial welfare rights service to all of our citizens throughout the whole of Perth and Kinross.  
  • Provide a dedicated advice line (including seamless referrals,  signposting, follow-up work and onward referral at the first point of contact). 
  • Provide 24/7 access via online Welfare Rights webpages.
  • Continue to offer advice on DWP benefits, Tax Credits, Social Security Scotland benefits, housing, eviction, debt and employment rights. 
  • Continue to ensure people have the maximum income they are entitled to through comprehensive benefit checks, support with mandatory reconsiderations, mandatory redeterminations and the benefits appeals process (First and Upper Tribunals), targeted campaign work and following up on claims. 
  • Continue to remove/reduce barriers and undertake targeted work to ensure that minority community groups can access our service and to be assisted in a way that suits their needs.
  • Continue to ensure that people affected by cancer have access to an enhanced welfare rights service which includes form-filling and access to financial assistance through Macmillan Grants in partnership with Macmillan Cancer Support.
  • Continue to ensure that pregnant women and low income families with dependent children have access to an enhanced welfare rights service which includes form-filling and access to available financial assistance in partnership with NHS Tayside.
  • Continue to provide a range of information and support; talks and training, quick guides, leaflets, and web-based information to support the frontline across the authority and to inform our residents. 
  • To take a lead role in relation to Welfare Reform and a key role in relation to Child Poverty. 
  • Administration of the Welfare Trust and other discretionary monies e.g. Financial Insecurity Fund and Whole Family Wellbeing Fund to ensure that households have access to their statutory entitlements before accessing other available funding. 
  • Continue to listen to the needs of citizens and our communities to provide a service that best suits their needs.

What we do

The Welfare Rights Team has three core functions:

  • Representation
  • Advice & Consultancy
  • Training

Who we are

The Welfare Rights Team sits within the Customer & Digital Services department.

  • Alan Taylor, Strategic Lead, Customer & Digital Services
  • Lynn Brady, Revenues & Benefits Manager
  • Nicola Sutherland, Team Leader (Welfare Rights & Welfare Fund)

Welfare Rights Team

  • Deborah Sinclair, Senior Welfare Rights Officer
  • Liam Watson, Senior Welfare Rights Officer
  • Andrew McConnachie, Welfare Rights Officer
  • Karen Grant, Welfare Rights Officer
  • Bernadette Caldwell, Welfare Rights Officer
  • Frances Shaw, Welfare Rights Officer
  • Chris Grigg, Welfare Rights Officer
  • Rebecca Elliot, Welfare Rights Officer
  • Claire MacDonald, Welfare Rights Officer
  • Kenneth Thomson-Duncan, Welfare Rights Officer
  • Bogdan Ionescu, Welfare Rights Officer

Externally funded projects

  • Ilona Napier, Macmillan Welfare Rights Officer
  • Kirsty Hynd, Macmillan Welfare Rights Officer 


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