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What benefit calculator tool do you use?

 

Annette
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Welfare Dept Wave Trauma Centre

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Hi to assist advisers, I wanted to purchase a good calculation tool, to assist advisers and someone recommended Ferret.  they have two systems UC forward and fercalc.  Does anyone use these and if so what the benefits and pitfalls as they both appear very different.

There are also free tools via Turn to Us; Entitled to and Age UK; and I’ve heard of Lisson Grove programme.

is it the case that all these programmes have their limitations and the paper and pen cannot be beaten?  However with the increasing complexity of welfare reform and the need for quick comparative calculations at times, I’m keen to hear what others are using?  Any recommendations?

Many thanks

     
Gareth Morgan
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Managing Director, Ferret, Cardiff

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Trying to be objective about the differences.

Ferrcalc is for people who understand benefits, It’s largely on one screen, a bit like a spreadsheet, and instantly shows the effect of data input or changed.  Allows the comparison of 2 sets of circumstances against each other.

UC Forward is for more generalist advisers and walks through a series of questions to reach an answer.

     
Mike Hughes
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Probably a little out of date but there are previous threads on this subject.

     
Paul_Treloar_AgeUK
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You should be able to see some of the previous threads that Mike refers to in this search list Annette.

benefit calculator

As you note, Age UK use the Entitled To calculator and we’ve worked with them to try and make the version on our website easier for pension-age claimants to use.

Personally, I would usually do a manual calculation though, just to be on the same side.

     
Gareth Morgan
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Paul_Treloar_AgeUK - 02 April 2019 09:57 AM

Personally, I would usually do a manual calculation though, just to be on the same side.

I’ve always said that you should never use a calculator unless you know enough about benefits to recognise a stupid answer when it pops up.  It’s too easy to put in a weekly figure instead of annual or vice versa.  Having said that there are a lot of situations where it’s just not practical to do manual calculations.  Multiple what-if calculations, assessments over ranges of earnings, determining what’s the most advantageous amount of pension to withdraw etc.

It’s vital to make sure that whatever system you choose gives enough detail about how it’s calculated the result to be able to follow it and check.  Run very quickly away from anything that just gives an answer, unless it’s a client use system for people who’ll only ever use it once.

     
shawn
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As well as EntitledTo and Turn2Us, gov.uk also points at the Policy in Practice ‘Benefit and Budgeting Calculator’ (which also features our advicelocal search widget!)

... https://www.betteroffcalculator.co.uk/#/free

     
CHAC Adviser
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Gareth Morgan - 02 April 2019 10:22 AM
Paul_Treloar_AgeUK - 02 April 2019 09:57 AM

Personally, I would usually do a manual calculation though, just to be on the same side.

I’ve always said that you should never use a calculator unless you know enough about benefits to recognise a stupid answer when it pops up.  It’s too easy to put in a weekly figure instead of annual or vice versa.

I’ve been involved in training a number of volunteer advisers and they’d always, without fail, complain at being forced to learn how to do manual calculations when there were calculators available to do it by hand. Most got it once it was explained they had to know how to do it by hand to spot dodgy results. It’s certainly saved my bacon on more than one occasion seeing a result and thinking “that doesn’t look right…”.

We use QBC here and personally I think it’s excellent. It isn’t, perhaps, the most user friendly (at least when starting out) but once you’re comfortable with it it really is very simple but very powerful. It’s also great when you want to play around with what-if calculations. Particularly the ability to compare two different scenarios on one report.

 

 

     
Gareth Morgan
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CHAC Adviser - 02 April 2019 01:34 PM

. It’s also great when you want to play around with what-if calculations. Particularly the ability to compare two different scenarios on one report.

As does Ferret’s Ferrcalc

     
stevenmcavoy
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QBC.  there may be other versions as good but its the one im used to having used it now for ten plus years.

as stated though you really need to be able to do a manual calculation before being able to use it as it is designed (i assume) for advice workers who know what they have to input.

when i have trained people i never let them use the QBC or any other system until they can do a manual calculation.  otherwise you never get an understanding of calculating the benefit and are very likely to make a mistake.

     
Benny Fitzpatrick
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QBC.  It’s the most versatile system in my experience, although I concur that one should always be taught how to do the manual calcs as well. QBC is certainly tailored to professional users, but I think it’s none the worse for that. I would recommend “Entitled To” for general public use.

On a slightly different note, has anyone else heard rumours (I hope they are just rumours) that QBC is to be discontinued?

     
Mike Hughes
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Benny Fitzpatrick - 03 April 2019 04:00 PM

QBC.  It’s the most versatile system in my experience, although I concur that one should always be taught how to do the manual calcs as well. QBC is certainly tailored to professional users, but I think it’s none the worse for that. I would recommend “Entitled To” for general public use.

On a slightly different note, has anyone else heard rumours (I hope they are just rumours) that QBC is to be discontinued?

Eek. I sincerely hope not.

That said, I don’t find any of them especially accessible. Even starting QBC in large mode (or whatever it’s called) just makes slightly incoherent stuff bigger.

 

     
Jon Blackwell
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Benny Fitzpatrick - 03 April 2019 04:00 PM

...
On a slightly different note, has anyone else heard rumours (I hope they are just rumours) that QBC is to be discontinued?

I try not to post directly on threads like this one but I can confirm that those rumours are false - there are no plans to discontinue QBC.

     
Mike Hughes
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Amen to that.