In 2010, Islington council set up its pioneering Islington Fairness Commission to look at how to tackle inequality and poverty and make the borough fairer. The findings and recommendations from that report have underpinned its work ever since, and the council has remained committed to supporting low-income families. This year, they ran targeted campaigns to help the borough’s most financially vulnerable.
Islington’s good news story of 2022
Using LIFT has enabled us to analyse our benefits data set of 28,000 households and focus on the 400 who appear entitled to pension credit. Through engagement with those households we have been able to achieve excellent benefit take-up results to get vital additional income to some of our most vulnerable residents. LIFT provides excellent data insight to allow you to target your resources to achieve maximum results for those households that need the help most.
Robbie Rainbird, Assistant Director – Community Financial Resilience, Islington
Learn more about Islington’s good news story
Pension Credit is historically underclaimed with around a third of eligible pensioners missing out not only a top up to their monthly income but also help with other costs such as heating bills, housing costs and council tax. As pensioners spend more on food and utilities than households of other ages, Islington saw the importance of ensuring that all of those eligible are receiving Pension Credit.
Islington Council sought to maximise take up in pensioner households on the lowest incomes, and create more financially resilient carers. Financially resilient carers were likely to be able to continue caring for longer, reducing the future demand for care packages.
Using LIFT (Low Income Family Tracker), Islington Council identified and targeted households where the household was of pension age and not yet claiming Pension Credit. The households were also filtered by their levels of financial resilience. LIFT gives visibility over who is living in poverty and keeps Islington up to date with changes in people’s circumstances.
An Income Maximisation officer was assigned to the project to ensure consistency, maximise the resident’s total income and signpost residents to other streams of support available and to track the full return on investment of this project using LIFT. Islington also tracked areas around contact to residents to gain insight into the best ways to communicate with this group for future campaigns.
Once contact was made, the team used the Better Off Calculator to work out residents’ entitlement and help them to claim.
Two Pension Credit campaigns have been run successfully with incredible results:
- 689 households identified using LIFT
- 274 households helped to claim
- £939,100 in Pension Credit awarded annually
- £230,970 distributed in backdated Pension Credit
- £56,136 other related benefits claimed
- £5,427 backdated other related benefits
- The total benefits now awarded for these 274 households is £1,231,633
- An average of £4,495 per household
Phase 3 of the campaign has recently begun, with £253,000 of additional annual entitlement claimed for pensioner households so far, with more to come. Claiming Pension Credit now makes you eligible for the government Cost Of Living payments that are worth £650 this year, rising to £900 in 2023/24. The total estimated economic impact for the borough from the Pension Credit take-up work to date is £7.3 million.
Other successes using LIFT
25 of those households supported in the Pension Credit campaign also owed debt to Islington Council. To date £13,649 has been repaid, again further adding to the impact of this campaign. Similarly, LIFT has been used to identify households that might be eligible for Council Tax Support, saving residents £61,563 so far.
Islington have also used LIFT to proactively distribute half of their £6.6 million pot of three Household Support Funds (HSF), with the remaining £3.3 million allocated to Free School Meals (FSM) eligible households.
LIFT was also used to engage with around 1,500 households eligible for Healthy Start vouchers.
Data-led insights from LIFT have enabled Islington Council to support residents across the full spectrum of ages, from working families through to pensioners.