How to check you're not missing out on thousands of pounds in benefits and Universal Credit

STRUGGLING Brits could be missing out on thousands of pounds a year by not claiming the benefits they're entitled to.

It's easy to miss out on payments you never knew existed as you have to be specific when you apply.

Hundred's of people's circumstances have changed over the last year as well, so it's important to see if you are eligible to claim, even if you might not have been before.

Check out our guide to make sure you're not losing out.

Which benefits are people failing to claim?

Millions will fail to get the support they need as they'll regularly miss out on claiming Universal Credit, pensions credit and child credit.

Figures suggest that 40 per cent of retirees eligible for pensions credit don't claim it, meaning 1.3million pensioners are missing out on £2,500 a year each.

And MoneysavingExpert has suggested that tens of thousands of women are likely to have been underpaid the state pension, with many due up to £10,000.

Before the roll out of Universal Credit, 1.3million families failed to sign up for housing benefit – losing out on £3,000 each – or a collective £4.2billion.

And there are newer claims you can make because of the pandemic too.

If your income has changed or you need to self-isolate due to coronavirus you could be entitled to means-tested benefits, council-tax support or the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.

During the pandemic there have been 4.5 million claims made to Universal Credit alone.

The Sun wants to Make Universal Credit Work

UNIVERSAL Credit replaces six benefits with a single monthly payment.

6 million people are on Universal Credit in 2021.
That's up 98% since the beginning of the pandemic and another million are expected to be on it by the time the system is fully rolled out in 2023.

But it takes 5 weeks to get the first payment and it could leave some families worse off by thousands of pounds a year.

And while working families can claim back up to 85 per cent of their childcare costs, childcare still has to be paid upfront – we’ve heard of families waiting up to 6 months for the money.

Working parents across the country told us they’ve been unable to take on more hours – or have even turned down better paid jobs or more hours because of the amount they get their benefits cut.

It’s time to Make Universal Credit work. We want the government to:

  1. Get paid faster: The Government must slash the time Brits wait for their first Universal Credit payments from five to two weeks, helping stop 7 million from being pushed into debt.
  2. Keep more of what you earn: The work allowance should be increased and the taper rate should be slashed from 63p to 50p, helping at least 4 million families.
  3. Don’t get punished for having a family: Parents should get the 85 per cent of the money they can claim for childcare upfront instead of being paid in arrears.

Together, these changes will help Make Universal Credit Work.

Join our Universal Credit Facebook group or email [email protected] to share your story.

How to check what you're entitled to

Online, you can find lots of free-to-use benefits calculators that help you work out what you're entitled to.

We've narrowed down some easy ones you can use.

Before using the tools, make sure you have any financial information to hand, such as bank and savings statements, and information on pensions and existing benefits.

If you're part of a family or live with a partner, get their basic financial information together too as this could affect your claim.

Once you've used the tools you can use the contact information on Gov.uk to get the ball rolling and apply for what you're owed.

Of course, the tools only provide an indicator of what benefits you can claim – and usually don't include means tested benefits, so you may be entitled to even more.

For example, you will qualify for extra financial help if you have disabled child or you're a carer.

What benefits are available?

IT’S not just the unemployed who can claim from the welfare state. These are the benefits that are available from the Government, broken down into sections:

Universal Credit 

The six main means-tested benefits have now been merged with Universal Credit. These are:

  • Working tax credit
  • Child tax credit
  • Housing benefit
  • Emplyment and support allowance
  • Jobseeker's Allowance
  • Income support.

Families

  • Family benefits
  • Child benefit
  • Child tax credits
  • Guardian's allowance
  • Statutory maternity/paternity/adoption pay
  • Marriage allowance
  • Maternity grant
  • Maternity allowance
  • Widowed parent's allowance.

Able to work

  • Working tax credit
  • Contribution-based jobseeker's allowance (JSA).

Low income 

  • Income support
  • Income-based jobseeker's allowance
  • Income-based employment and support allowance
  • Pension credit
  • Housing benefit
  • Council tax reduction
  • Free school meals, milk or uniforms and healthcare
  • Support for mortgage interest
  • Budgeting loans and advances
  • Funeral payment
  • Local council support schemes
  • Cold weather payments.

Health and disabilities 

  • Attendance allowance
  • Personal independence payment
  • Carer's allowance
  • Contribution-based employment support allowance
  • Statutory sick pay
  • State pension
  • Bereavement allowance
  • Bereavement payment
  • Winter fuel payments.

 

Entitledto's benefits calculator

Entitledto's free calculator works out whether you qualify for various benefits, tax credits and Universal Credit.

If you run out of time to complete the form in one go you can save your results and come back later but you will need to sign in or register.

You can do this using Facebook, Google or by setting up an Entitledto account.

If you don't want to register, consumer group MoneySavingExpert.com and charity StepChange both have benefits tools powered by Entitledto's data that let you save your results without logging in.

Instead, you're provided with a unique code to note down and use when you want to revisit the questionnaire.

Policy in Practice's benefits and budgeting calculator

Use Policy in Practice's calculator to not only find out which benefits you could receive but also to find out how much cash you'll have leftover each month after paying for housing costs.

Usefully, it also includes links to claim for benefits.

The calculator has advice on how you may be able to claim additional support to help you through the covid period too.

It says its tool is award-winning and is used by over 10,000 people every day.

If you want to save and compare calculations, you will need to set up a free account with Policy in Practice.

Turn2Us' benefits calculator

Charity Turn2Us' benefits calculator works out what means-tested benefits you might be entitled to, as well as whether you qualify for carers allowance.

It points out that it doesn't calculate non-means tested benefits and contributory benefits, but it will include these in your results if you’re already getting them.

What's handy about this calculator is you can save your answers and come back to them at a later date – but you will need to input your email address to do this.

You'll also be given a unique calculation reference code so make sure you note it down in case you need to contact the charity about any problems with your results.

What to do if you have problems claiming Universal Credit

IF you’re experiencing trouble applying for your Universal Credit, or the payments just don’t cover costs, here are your options:

Apply for an advance – Claimants are able to get some cash within five days rather than waiting weeks for their first payment. But it's a loan which means the repayments will be automatically deducted from your future Universal Credit pay out.

Alternative Payment Arrangements– If you're falling behind on rent, you or your landlord may be able to apply for an APA which will get your payment sent directly to your landlord. You might also be able to change your payments to get them more frequently, or you can split the payments if you're part of a couple.

Budgeting Advance – You may be able to get help from the government to help with emergency household costs of up to £348 if you're single, £464 if you're part of a couple or £812 if you have children. These are only in cases like your cooker breaking down or for help getting a job. You'll have to repay the advance through your regular Universal Credit payments. You'll still have to repay the loan, even if you stop claiming for Universal Credit.

Cut your Council Tax – You might be able to get a discount on your Council Tax or be entitled to Discretionary Housing Payments if your payments aren't enough to cover your rent.

Foodbanks – If you're really hard up and struggling to buy food and toiletries, you can find your local foodbank who will provide you with help for free. You can find your nearest one on the Trussel Trust website.

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