Kirklees launches online benefits website

An online platform provider owned by Kirklees Council has launched a new website for benefits enquiries aimed at saving the council £400,000 a year.

BetterOff Kirklees provides users with a calculator to work out what benefits they could be entitled to, along with access to job vacancies and interview advice.

The council said that it is now in discussions with the Department for Work and Pensions and Jobcentreplus to integrate back end systems, and with other councils interested in using the technology.

Graham Turner, the council’s cabinet member for resources said: “We remain totally committed to providing a personalised advice service to ensure that residents claim what they are entitled to and are work-ready where possible.

“BetterOff Kirklees allows us to do this, by making the most of our reducing resources whilst freeing up our benefit advisers to deal with the more complex cases we receive.”

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He said that the platform would help move more people into the workplace.

Users can use the website to fill in application forms for benefits from Attendance Allowance to the Personal Independence Payment.

Council benefits advisers can still be contacted online to assist with claims, although this service was operating as an email service, rather than a live chat, when PublicTechnology checked it.

Work on the website began after Kirklees realised radical solutions were needed in the face of cuts to its welfare information advice budget of nearly £1.75 million a year – a 30% reduction rising to 50% over the next three years. 

The website was developed by LookingLocal, a company owned and  managed by Kirklees Council, on behalf of more than 130 local government and partner organisations.

It one of the only survivors from the government’s e-Government programme which closed in 2006.

BetterOff Kirklees is available on PCs, smartphones and mobile devices.

Colin Marrs

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