26 January
Advice Shop

It is estimated that £15 billion in means tested benefits are unclaimed each year in the UK, with a significant amount going unclaimed by West Lothian residents.  

Support and advice for people is available via West Lothian Council's Advice Shop - who have helped raise over £25 million in benefits, in West Lothian, in 2022.

The Advice Shop can help local people find out what benefits they are entitled to, and ensure that they are not missing out on support.

The Advice Shop is a free, impartial and confidential service to help the people of West Lothian with a focus to alleviate poverty through advice, assistance and advocacy in Welfare Benefits, Energy Advice, Money and Debt and Housing Advice.

Customers can use the online benefit calculator which can be found here: https://www.westlothian.gov.uk/benefit-calculator

The council's Advice Shop dealt with nearly 178,000 individual contacts and enquiries last year - a 22% increase on 2021. The team helped support over 15,300 individual customers.

The council's Anti-Poverty Manager Nahid Hanif said: "The cost of living is affecting many people and what is very important is that those that are entitled to benefits ensure that they are receiving them. Benefits exist to help people who need that extra support and it's clear through our work that many people don't realise that they are entitled to that additional support via benefits.

"It's very clear that many West Lothian residents are not claiming the benefits that they are entitled to going by the £15 billion of benefits that are going unclaimed across the UK. A significant proportion of them will stay in West Lothian.

"I'd urge local people to contact us as quickly as possible and arrange for a benefits check. It can be done online, over the phone or in person and it doesn't take long to do.

Leader of West Lothian Council Lawrence Fitzpatrick added: "These figures highlights how vital council services are in helping people in West Lothian.  

"Governments can provide financial support in terms of benefits, but it is the council's team that plays the leading role in ensuring that access, advice and money reaches those that need it and are entitled to it."

Further assistance is on the way for West Lothian residents via the low income winter heating payment. 13,000 people in West Lothian will be automatically paid the new low-income winter heating payment, with a payment of £50 due to be made from February 2023.