There are £15 billion of unclaimed means-tested benefits sitting in government coffers each year.
- An average £5,000 a year was unclaimed by people eligible for Employment and Support Allowance, which is paid to people who are off work due to ill-health or disability.
- An average £2,000 was unclaimed by older people owed Pension Credit.
- 640,000 families missed out on £2.3 billion of Child Tax Credit
- 1.2 million failed to claim £3 billion of Working Tax Credits.
Better off people might choose not to claim theirs but for the rest of us it is always, always worth checking if we’re missing out. Many councils are reporting people are not claiming the Council Tax Support they’re due, and it’s often Universal Credit claimants who forget because it’s now claimed in a different place to previous benefits.
The good news is, we can now check what we’re entitled to online. The web-based calculators, like this one on the Quids in! website, provide more of a guide but at least we know what we should be asking for, in terms of benefits. They’re dead easy to use and accurate down to our postcode area, so includes support available from the local council. (More here).
Grants and other help are available to many on lower incomes, especially pensioners. Local trusts, energy companies and local councils have different pots for people who are struggling.
Benefit claimants are often wrongly blamed for the state of the country but most people have paid in, not to help others but help themselves in times of hardship. Billions of pounds go unclaimed, so if you’re on a low income and need it, claim it.
It’s not just benefits where we’ve forgotten to claim what’s ours. According to The Sun, a whacking £850 million is sat in savings accounts we haven’t paid into in years. Almost 1.4 million unclaimed Premium Bond prizes are sitting unclaimed, worth £56.5 million.
Pensions from previous employers we’ve lost touch with are costing those of us who have retired as much as £300 a year. Unclaimed Lottery winnings and abandoned Child Trust Fund accounts are also benefiting no-one but the banks who look after the cash. It’s time to get a grip.