People in Hartlepool who want to challenge benefit entitlements have been urged to get help as soon as possible.
According to Citizens Advice Hartlepool, which is based in Park Road, many residents get in touch to dispute decisions on their entitlement to a particular benefit.
Our message is ‘help us help you – get to our offices early’Joe Michna
However, they normally have just one month to submit their challenge, which will either be in the form of a review or appeal.
The letter a person receives informing them they are not entitled to a benefit also explains the deadline for a challenge to be made.
Many people are waiting until towards the end of the one-month deadline to challenge, which is making it more difficult for the advice service to help them.
Citizens Advice Hartlepool deals with a large number of people who have either been refused a benefit or have a deadline for claiming it.
The benefits typically involved include employment and support allowance, the personal independence payment, attendance allowance, tax credits, jobseekers’ allowance and housing benefit.
Many people leave it until very late when deciding whether to lodge a review or an appeal, and often contact the Citizens Advice office with only a few days to go before the deadline.
This causes problems, as the Citizens Advice office has a waiting time for appointments, which can be between two and three weeks depending on the particular issue or problem.
Citizens Advice Hartlepool manager Joe Michna said: “We can help, but do not leave it until almost the end of the one month deadline before contacting us.
“We have a waiting list for client appointments, and it is essential that if you want our help, you contact us as soon as possible after receiving your decision letter.
“The one month-deadline must be taken seriously, and our advice is to seek help as soon as possible after receiving the decision you wish to challenge, whether by way of a review or an appeal.
“Our message is ‘help us help you – get to our offices early’.”