An online benefits calculator has helped a Scottish local authority to ensure £7.5m in awards or unclaimed benefits have reached those suffering financial hardship both before and during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Angus Council, which introduced the system in May last year, has hailed a series of measures including the digital response to coronavirus which has been able to target resources more effectively at people struggling to make ends meet.

Child poverty can undermine the health, wellbeing and educational attainment of the children who experience it. The council and partners worked together, initially to respond, and now to recover, reimage and renew collectively to reduce child poverty through a variety of innovative and successful pieces of work including:

  • the online benefits calculator has confirmed current awards or identified unclaimed benefits of almost £7.5 million since its launch in May 2019
  • a new referral pathways from midwives to advice services resulted in over £130k in financial gains in the first six months of the pilot
  • the Holiday Food and Fun collaboration received investment from the council enabling this successful pilot to be sustained long-term
  • great progress has been made in delivering the Angus Community Planning Partnership pledge to eliminate Period Poverty by 2021
  • held a Hard Edges event which gave a unique insight to staff into the multiple barriers facing local people in poverty.

Angus Council’s Vice Children and Learning Convener, Councillor Lois Speed, said: “It’s been encouraging to see the council and partner organisations come together to respond to coronavirus and play a vital role to step up their efforts to reduce child poverty. But the pandemic is not over, and we are already starting to see the impact it’s had on child poverty and the effect it will have in years to come.

“With more people across Angus facing hardship, we predict an increase in child poverty in Angus as household finances are put under increased strain and unemployment increases and we want to make sure that what we do makes a real difference to families in Angus struggling to make ends meet. This is why initiatives such as the holiday food and fun and the online benefits calculator are so important.

“I urge people to get involved to ensure we develop the right services for the people of Angus and for those who may be struggling, please get in touch to get the help and support they need.”