Agenda item

Demonstration of Low-Income Family Tracker (LIFT)


The Committee received a presentation, including a demonstration, of the Low-Income Family Tracker (LIFT).


The Committee was informed that the LIFT project was implemented in February 2021 in partnership with Policy in Practice. LIFT was a platform which amalgamated benefit claimant datasets and yielded powerful insights by identifying individual Gravesham households that were impacted by policy changes now and in the future.


The project proactively supported the Council in achieving the following objectives:-



1.    To gain a better understanding of the low-income cohort in the Borough - Targeting support and advice to those who were the most financially vulnerable in the Borough, ensuring they had access to all the support available to them.


2.    Fewer people in financial crisis in the Borough - Introducing a package of housing measures and creative interventions that provided support to the households identified as most vulnerable.


3.    Improve council tax recovery - Recognising households affected by the poverty gap and ensuring all families were adequately supported however significantly they were struggling.


The Council had used the information to identify the most vulnerable families and proactively targeted financial support to them. Since February 2021, the Council had provided the following support:-


·         campaigns to increase Pension Credit take-up using LIFT which had resulted in over £330,000 per annum being allocated. Economic benefits of the campaigns were projected to be over £2.2m to Gravesham residents;

·         by 31 March 2024, £624,000 of the Household Support Fund would have been proactively allocated using LIFT poverty triggers;

·         £130,000 of the Council Tax Financial Support Fund had been allocated to those who were vulnerable and identified as ‘can’t pay’;

·         £248,743 of the discretionary energy scheme payments had been proactively allocated to 6,152 households;

·         changes to the Council Tax Reduction Scheme;

·         Council Tax in-year collection had improved year on year; 2020/21 was 94.5%,  2021/22 was 95.5% and 2022/23 was 96.1%; and

·         aided reduction in Gravesham households in relative poverty from 3,214 (2,844 children) to 2,446 (2,263 children).


The Head of Revenues & Benefits advised that the project had been recognised nationally and the work undertaken mentioned in the House of Lords.


The presentation/demonstration provided Members with an overview of the support given to date, future plans and also gave specific insights at ward level.


The Committee was also provided with the performance statistics in relation to the Revenues and Benefits Service which was an improving trend.


The Committee thanked the Head of Revenues & Benefits for an informative presentation/demonstration and commended the excellent work being undertaken to help the most vulnerable households in the Borough which had resulted in the project being recognised nationally. It was felt that there should be a separate briefing session arranged for all Members in order for Members to receive a presentation/demonstration of LIFT.


Members stated that where households were being recognised as vulnerable and may be entitled to additional support, it was important for the Council to be mindful that not all households were computer literate/able to access information online therefore  supports/assistance should be provided to those households . The Head of Revenues & Benefits advised that the service was mindful of this and would support and/or signpost those who may need assistance with accessing and/or completing forms etc.


Members also requested that all departments be made aware of the LIFT project and the powerful insights it can offer.


It was acknowledged that households would be considered as below the poverty line if their income was below 60% of the median household income and asked whether savings/assets were taken into consideration. The Head of Revenues & Benefits advised that it was based on income only.


The Committee noted the information provided as part of the presentation/demonstration.