OK to ASK benefit take-up campaign

Winchester City Council is launching a second benefit take-up campaign. Throughout November it will be encouraging people that it's "OK to ASK" and seek advice about whether they are entitled to benefit by ringing a free helpline 0800 652 4161.

The campaign aims to build on the success of the Council's 2003 drive when over 50 people found they were entitled to more money, in one case £57 per week in attendance allowance.

"This year's campaign will be targeted at working age claimants, but that doesn't mean we don't want to hear from other groups. Anyone can and should ask about benefit entitlement," said Cllr Brian Collin, the City Council's portfolio holder for healthy and inclusive communities. "It really is OK to ask!"

"We know that even a small amount can make a big difference to peoples lives," he added.

The Council will be working in partnership with HM Revenue & Customs, Jobcentre Plus and Winchester Health for All Partnership and will be raising awareness of the campaign through

• A launch on 1 November at Winchester Guildhall
• distributing posters to 600 local employers
• distributing pens to school children with a leaflet to take home to parents
• displaying posters in Park & Ride and town service buses
• displaying information in community venues
• information at Council reception areas
• through the City Council website

A confidential check on benefit entitlement will be available by ringing a free Helpline 0800 652 4161 between 9.00am and 5.00pm Monday to Friday. Trained advisors in the Council's Customer Service Centre will carry out an initial assessment to identify any potential entitlement.

If a home visit is needed this will be done by Citizens Advice Bureau staff from Winchester or Bishops Waltham. Following the initial check the advisors will forward details to the appropriate agency to follow up a benefit claim.