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Turn2us Ask an Expert sessionsAsk An Expert - review of 2012 to date

The Ask an Expert feature on the Turn2us website is a regular opportunity for Turn2us service users to submit a question on a specific topic relating to benefits, grants or managing money to a panel of advisers who specialise in that area of information and advice.

We select a number of questions to put to the panel and we publish their answers on the Turn2us website together with links to useful sources of further information on the subject we are focusing on. Every person who submits a question receives a reply once the session ends, even if we do not publish the answer.

In this edition of the bulletin we look back at what we have covered so far in 2012 and what is planned for the rest of the year.

Financial support for housing costs

In January, we focused on financial support for housing costs. Experts from Shelter, Broadway and Turn2us answered enquiries about:

  • Housing Benefit
  • Shared accommodation
  • Separation and applying for grants on moving into new accommodation.

Some of the questions had so many aspects to them and required quite lengthy answers, so we included extra pages of information to support the answer and explore in more detail the options available to the questioner.

Expecting a child

February's subject was Expecting a child with experts from Gingerbread and Working Families. Topics included:

  • Dismissal from work due to a pregnancy-related illness
  • Availability of Child Benefit if moving abroad.

Tax credits and Employment and Support Allowance

Sometimes the topics are on specific benefits – we covered Tax credits in March with the help of the Low Incomes Tax Reform Group and Employment and Support Allowance in July with the help of Disability Rights UK and the Welfare Benefits Team at the London Borough of Redbridge. 

For these sessions we got a higher than usual number of questions from intermediaries, seeking advice to pass on to their clients.

Benefits Awareness Month

In April, Turn2us runs a Benefits Awareness Month campaign, so we invited questions for Ask an Expert more generally about any sort of benefit problem. This was the busiest session we have ever had with over 80 questions submitted and 14 selected for publication. Experts included representatives of Citizens Advice, Advice Derbyshire and Turn2us.

Several of the questions were on Employment and Support Allowance, which combined with the changes to this benefit that took effect in May, prompted us to write an article on ESA for the next edition of Turn2us News which we subsequently turned into an Information and Resources page on ESA changes May 2012.

Carers and help at home

August's Ask an Expert session focused on Carers and help at home. The wide-ranging subjects covered included:

  • What to do when you are a carer struggling to cope 
  • Discharge from hospital arrangements
  • Stopping caring 
  • Living independently when you have disabilities
  • Complex needs and housing adaptations or repairs.

Our experts from Disability Rights UK, Trafford Carers Centre and Independent Age provided us with such useful and detailed information on community care issues - such as health and social care assessments, carers assessments, Fair Access to Care Services policy (FACS), personal budgets and direct payments -  that we plan to use this material to produce new resources for our Information and Resources section.

Forthcoming Ask an Expert session on fuel poverty

The topic for October 2012 will be fuel poverty to tie in with our campaign - reported elsewhere in this edition of Turn2us News.

You can submit your questions between 17-24 October and our experts' answers to a selection will be published on 2 November.

More information

See our Ask an Expert introductory page for more information and an archive of previous sessions

Do you have ideas for future topics?

If there is a benefits, grants or managing money subject that you would like to see featured as an Ask an Expert session, please contact Alban Hawksworth, Turn2us Welfare Benefits Specialist, at alban.hawksworth@turn2us.org.uk

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