A DORSET housing association has helped provide an extra half a million pounds a year in benefits for residents.

Staff in the specialist support team at Magna Housing have been working very closely with residents to make sure they are claiming all the benefits they are eligible for. 

Ian Wood, specialist support manager for Magna - which has offices in Dorchester, Poundbury and Bridport, said: “It’s important to us that our residents claim all the money they are eligible for as it helps them to maintain their tenancy properly.

“If our residents are struggling, we see what support we can give and quite often that means looking at money they can claim.”

A Magna resident, who asked not to be named, said: “Because of the help we received from Magna, we were able to claim for a carer’s allowance. Not only do we have more money for food, it also meant it was easier to obtain a blue disabled parking badge. It might seem to be a small thing, but it makes a big difference as I can now use more accessible spaces.

“The allowance has also meant we can get the help we need around the home.

“I’d encourage other Magna residents to see if they qualify for extra benefit as it has made a real difference to our quality of life.”

Anyone who thinks they might be eligible for benefits because they are struggling financially can call Magna to find out more. Staff will help tenants apply for the benefits that they think they can get.

Mr Wood added: “Across the areas we work in, we have helped a total of 272 people claim more money and many of them have been able to claim back pay as well.

“One of our residents will get more than £4,000 a year extra in health benefits which will make a real difference to how they live.

“Another will get over £3,000 a year extra in carer’s allowance and someone else will get nearly £6,000 a year extra in child and working tax credits.

“We’ve identified 33 people who weren’t claiming the personal independence payment they should have been getting and this means together they will be nearly £136,000 better off.”

Mr Wood was very keen to stress that Magna only supports legitimate claims.

He said: “We do receive reports from people who think others are committing benefit fraud. We investigate all allegations of benefit fraud and pass them on to the relevant authorities if they are substantiated.”