Logo for IRRV Awards 2023 in teal blue and black on a white backgroundFolkestone and Hythe District Council has reached the finals of the IRRV Award 2023 for their benefit and income maximisation campaigns.

Their work with Policy in Practice to proactively support financially vulnerable families and boost their incomes by over £1.1 million has been shortlisted for the prestigious IRRV Awards 2023 in the Excellence in Partnership Working in Community Involvement and Debt Resolution category.

Vulnerable households are a priority in Folkestone and Hythe

A core priority for Folkestone and Hythe District Council (FHDC) is ensuring that families who are struggling financially are supported. Council tax arrears and unclaimed benefit take up are key areas identified for focus.

With limited internal resources to carry this work out alone the Revenue and Benefits team partnered with Policy in Practice to unlock insights from their data that would tell them more about which families were most in need of help and it is this successful partnership that sees both organisations shortlisted for IRRV Awards 2023.

The team can now proactively identify which of their low income households to target for benefit and income maximisation campaigns using the Low Income Family Tracker (LIFT) and Better Off Calculator, and therefore improve financial stability.

Unlocking administrative data to deliver £1.1 million to over 5,000 households

The team at Folkestone and Hythe, who won Benefits or Welfare Reform Team of the Year at the IRRV Awards 2022, provides welfare advice and support to residents via a number of projects such as the ongoing distribution of both the Household Support Fund (HSF) and the UK Shared Prosperity Fund.

Benefit maximisation for residents is key. This is carried out regularly via campaigns run in LIFT, where eligible residents are identified and targeted. Once identified, residents who are shown to be financially ‘in crisis’ or ‘at risk’ receive a full holistic ‘welfare experience’ from the Welfare team to improve their financial stability and resilience.

The team has now distributed over £1,117,000 to residents throughout the borough. Campaigns run via LIFT include:

  • Household Support Fund worth £915,632 distributed to 4,832 households
  • Monthly Council Tax Reduction take up schemes: in 2022-23 181 cases (43% of all cases) were successfully awarded a total value of £89,327
  • Twice yearly Pension Credit take up campaigns: the 2022 campaigns delivered £112,000 in income to 47 households

LIFT uncovers insights from administrative data to visualise poverty and identify people who are eligible for but missing out on support

Just About Managing households are also of particular interest to FHDC. With the addition of Mosaic data as well as the council’s own administrative data feeding into LIFT the council can identify households who are Just About Managing and previously not highlighted to offer support before they slip into crisis.

The team have distributed over £1.1 million in targeted campaigns over the past year

Benefit assessments improve outcomes for the council and residents

Licensing the Better Off Calculator has also provided tangible outcomes for the welfare team at FHDC.

After reviewing their practices, it was decided that a benefit assessment would be incorporated into existing processes in an effort to increase customers’ financial sustainability. In both the short and long term this will improve collection rates for the council and, for residents, improve their mental and financial wellbeing.

How external partnerships have helped to maximise results

FHDC actively participates in Policy in Practice’s regular LIFT Community workshops. The bi-monthly forum of leading local authorities enables FHDC to give feedback and suggest how they’d like the tool to develop to meet their future needs, as in the case of Just About Managing households.

FHDC is also a regular and active participant in the UC data roundtable hosted by Policy in Practice which exists to discuss how more Universal Credit data can be shared with local authorities by DWP.

Through this partnership, FHDC has linked up with other local authorities to share knowledge and best practice in order to learn and, crucially, help other councils improve the work they do with LIFT to build the finances of their low income families.  Members of the team at FHDC are generous with their time and regularly contribute to Policy in Practice’s webinars where they share results, successes and challenges they’ve overcome to encourage others.

Next steps

    1. Listen back to our on demand webinar to discover how Folkestone and Hythe identified and targeted Just About Managing households using data
    2. Find out how LIFT can help you identify customers eligible for, but missing out on benefits, and how the Better Off Calculator can help you to maximise customers’ income

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