Competency Framework: welfare and benefits

Technical Domains

4. Welfare and benefits

This domain is about issues relating to welfare and benefits, including: the main benefits that are available; applying for benefits; the main eligibility criteria; benefits problems; how means testing affects benefits; sources of support; Universal credit; disputing benefits decisions; scams. The domain comprises Tiers 1 and 2 only. 

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.

4.1.1 Awareness 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)
4.1.2 Awareness of which agencies and offices administer different types of benefits (e.g. DWP, HMRC, Local Authorities etc.)
4.1.3 Awareness of which agencies and offices administer different types of benefits (e.g. DWP, HMRC, Local Authorities etc.)
4.1.4 Awareness of Appointeeships
4.1.5 Identify any vulnerabilities in customers which may prove a barrier to making or managing a successful benefit claim (or dealing with a benefits problem)
4.1.6 Signpost to relevant sources of support (e.g. literacy and numeracy, mental health, substance misuse, physical mobility, digital confidence and access, economic or domestic abuse)
4.1.7 Awareness of scams and what to do if a customer has been the subject of a scam
4.2.1 Knowledge 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.)
4.2.2 Knowledge 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.)
4.2.3 Knowledge of other government and non-government sources of support (e.g. Budgeting loans and advances, local welfare assistance funds, grants and discounts etc.)
4.2.4 Knowledge 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
4.2.5 Understanding of the main eligibility criteria of benefit entitlement, appropriate to the individual and how a change in their circumstance can affect this
4.2.6 Knowledge of where to signpost people to start benefits application, appropriate to the individual
4.2.7 Understanding of the principles of Universal Credit
4.2.8 Understanding of the process involved and impact on the customer when moving from legacy benefits onto UC and where to signpost for further support
4.2.9 Understanding of how the principle of means testing affects benefit eligibility and entitlement (e.g. how total household income and savings will affect benefits)
4.2.10 Understanding 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.)
4.2.11 Understanding 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
4.2.12 Signpost to appropriate support for disputing a benefits decision

Training and qualifications

Find out about external training for the welfare and benefits domain.

Next step: check my confidence now

When you're clear on the boundaries in giving money guidance, and its breadth and depth, you’re ready to move on. See how confident you are in giving money guidance and get pointers.