HOUSING tenants are being urged to take up the offer of a free and confidential service to check they are receiving the benefits and income they are entitled to.
Endeavour Housing, which manages properties in Hartlepool, is encouraging its residents to get a welfare health check as they face the costs of the festive season and the effects of the VAT rise.
Endeavour has teamed up with independent charity DAWN Advice to offer tenants the facility.
Since the service was launched last April, tenants have secured an additional 80,000 of benefits per year and 40 per cent of those who have contacted the service have seen an increase in their income as a result.
Endeavour's housing services manager Sara Herrington said: "Many of our tenants have told us they find the benefits system confusing and were unsure where to go to check they were getting all of the benefits that they were entitled too.
"So to help with this and as part of our wider efforts against financial exclusion, we offer the DAWN Advice service to all residents living in one of our properties.
"They can ring a freephone number get a welfare benefit check over the phone and advice on how to claim any benefits that they are currently not receiving and how to apply for claims to be backdated.
"Unfortunately some families do get into difficulties at this time of year and are tempted by the offers of loan sharks and door stop lenders.
"Addressing financial exclusion is a key priority for us and we work closely with our partners to offer alternative solutions."