4. Welfare and benefits

We recognise that benefit entitlement can form a significant backdrop to someone’s financial life and that it is important for money guidance practitioners to be aware of its implications.

We also need to recognise that the welfare landscape has changed significantly due to wide scale benefit reforms, increased demand, complexity and scale.

In areas that are regulated (such as debt and pensions), this framework goes up to but does not cross those boundaries. In the case of Welfare and Benefits, in the absence of a regulated boundary but taking into account the specialist nature and complexity of the area, the framework has been restricted to those areas general money guidance practitioners are likely to cover and we link to existing relevant frameworks that cover benefits and welfare in more detail.

Tier 1

4.1.1Awareness of the main benefits available, covering the life events relevant to your customers (e.g. births, deaths, bringing up children, divorce/separation, job loss, retirement, illness and disability, caring)
4.1.2Awareness of which agencies and offices administer different types of benefits (e.g. DWP, HMRC, Local Authorities etc.)
4.1.3Awareness of which organisations offer specialist benefits advice and tools for benefits calculations, familiarity with websites and how to refer customers to them
4.1.4Awareness of Appointeeships
4.1.5Identify any vulnerabilities in customers which may prove a barrier to making or managing a successful benefit claim (or dealing with a benefits problem)
4.1.6Signpost to relevant sources of support (e.g. literacy and numeracy, mental health, substance misuse, physical mobility, digital confidence and access, economic or domestic abuse)
4.1.7Awareness of scams and what to do if a customer has been the subject of a scam

Tier 2

4.2.1Knowledge of the application process for welfare benefits and the basic information required (e.g. which forms of ID are acceptable, which banks offer fee-free basic bank accounts, how to provide proof of address etc.)
4.2.2Knowledge of the financial considerations of making and managing a Universal Credit claim (e.g. payment in arrears, needing a transactional bank account, managing five-week wait for first payment etc.)
4.2.3Knowledge of other government and non-government sources of support (e.g. Budgeting loans and advances, local welfare assistance funds, grants and discounts etc.)
4.2.4Knowledge of the range of government benefits and statutory payments available and the ability to use this to explore a customer’s situation to give an indication of the benefits that are likely to be available to them
4.2.5Understanding of the main eligibility criteria of benefit entitlement, appropriate to the individual and how a change in their circumstance can affect this
4.2.6Knowledge of where to signpost people to start benefits application, appropriate to the individual
4.2.7Understanding of the principles of Universal Credit
4.2.8Understanding of the process involved and impact on the customer when moving from legacy benefits onto UC and where to signpost for further support
4.2.9Understanding of how the principle of means testing affects benefit eligibility and entitlement (e.g. how total household income and savings will affect benefits)
4.2.10Understanding of potential triggers within the benefits system for increased financial hardship and to explain to the customer how to mitigate (e.g. coping with gaps in benefit payments, sanctions, drop in income from migration to UC etc.)
4.2.11Understanding of how to use benefits calculator tools to assist a customer to get a better sense of how much they are likely to get, check if they will be better or worse off when moving from legacy benefits to UC
4.2.12Signpost to appropriate support for disputing a benefits decision

Further information

Here you will find further information to help meet the competencies in the framework and in doing so your customers too.

It includes relevant training and qualifications to the particular domain (identified by a mapping exercise carried out in 2019). These links are provided for your information and should not be interpreted as approval or endorsement of the materials.

It also includes links to further information on a range of relevant domain topics. Many of these links go to the MAS website, where you can get up to date information on most of the topics along with links to other organisations and sources of support.

This information is by no means exhaustive but our intention is that it will strengthen and grow over the course of the future programme.

We have put together a directory of further information to help you meet the competencies in the framework that will also support the people you help too.

It includes relevant training and qualifications for each domain (identified by a mapping exercise carried out in 2019).

The links to training and qualifications are provided for your information and should not be interpreted as approval or endorsement of the materials. Before signing up, it is important to check the credentials of the organisation if you are not familiar with them.

Things to think about include:

  • Will you get professional or recognised accreditation?
  • Can you get recommendations from your network?
  • Could you negotiate discounts by grouping together with other practitioners?

There are also links to further information on a range of relevant domain topics. Many of these links go to the MAS website, where you can get up to date information along with links to other organisations and sources of support. You can signpost people to these sources or use them as a basis for direct guidance. This information will be very useful for supporting your skills and knowledge in Tiers 1 and 2 technical domains.

Bear in mind this information is intended as a starting point and we plan to add further resources as we become aware of them to create a comprehensive database that will strengthen and grow as the programme develops.

Please do let us know of any training, qualifications or information resources that you use and think would help other practitioners by contacting us.

Qualifications

OCN NI Level 4 Certificate in Providing Social Security Advice

IRRV Level 3 Diploma in Local Taxation Benefits and Advice (RQF)

Training

Shelter – Financial Capability for Advisers

Advice UK – Learning to Advise 2019

The Money Advice Trust – Wiseradviser – Introduction to money advice (England & Wales)

The Money Advice Trust – Wiseradviser – Introduction to money advice (Northern Ireland)

The Money Advice Trust – Wiseradviser – Introduction to money advice (Scotland)

Institute of Money Advisers – Universal Credit: The Tricky Bits

Advice NI – Financial Inclusion and Welfare Reform

Money Advice Trust – Wiser Advisor – Benefits overpayment and debt

Money Advice Trust – Wiser Advisor – Universal Credit / Welfare Reform

Information and guidance sources of support

The Money Advice Service – Where people can get further help with benefits

The Money Advice Service – Different types of benefit explained

The Money Advice Service – Bank accounts for benefits payments

The Money Advice Service – Money Manager tool for UC Claimants

The Money Advice Service – Benefit sanctions

Gov.UK – Tools for benefits calculations

Gov.UK – Universal Credit

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