There are £1,300 million of unclaimed benefits sitting under the Chancellor’s desk at 11 Downing Street.
For all the media headlines about benefit scroungers, half of everyone who is entitled to benefits do not even claim them.
No-one talks about that very much. (Well, they do here). Welfare is there for all of us to fall back on if we’re out of work, unwell or past retirement age. We pay in when we’re working and we draw it out when we can’t. It’s like insurance. It’s ours to have when we need it.
But it works in the favour of the State when we don’t claim what is ours and so they don’t always tell us about it. That’s fine if we can live without it but when more than half of Quids in! readers tell us money worries are making them feel frightened, anxious or depressed and almost as many are skipping meals or going cold, I want to know they are getting all the financial help they can.
If you’re reading this, you’re online already. (Unfortunately, the least well-off are more likely not to be online and reading this.) So, well done, and since you’re here let me ask: Are you definitely sure you are not entitled to more support from the government?
I was working with a group of young unemployed people in Bristol earlier this year and wanted to show them some of the stuff on the internet that can help them boost their finances. In a meeting room with a projector and a big screen at the front, we worked through a ‘benefit calculator’. We used the example of a young person nicknamed Dal, who had a flat in the city and only worked a day or two a week on minimum wage.
In went the numbers. Simple figures for simple questions. And out came the result, calculated online: Dal could claim over £225 a month in housing benefit and £37 a month in council tax reduction.
The young people in the room were shocked.
And I was shocked that they were shocked.
One by one, each person in the room asked me to go through the calculator to input their own personal details. I didn’t have time but they saw how easy it was. I just sent them to an online calculator, like this one on the Quids in! website.
Everyone should do a benefits check and if you’re online, it couldn’t be easier. Whether you’re young or old, in work or out, on a decent income or a pittance, everyone should check because you never know. Don’t forget some benefits apply even if you’re earning and the online checkers tell you this too.
When people look at me in disbelief when I tell them that getting online can make them an average thousand pounds a year better off, I think of Dal. Claiming £262 a month, that’s £3,144 in a year. Bingo!
Check now, it only takes a few minutes.
And read more on getting the most from your benefits at our page here.