Are you missing out on important benefits?

5 min read



Thousands of people in the UK are losing out by not claiming the benefits they’re entitled to. Could you be one of them?

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Whether you’re young or old, working, unemployed or retired, a parent or carer, unwell or disabled, a homeowner or tenant, married or widowed, you could be eligible for benefits and tax credits that could help to improve your standard of living, health and financial wellbeing.

Yet recent research shows that many people in the UK are missing out on valuable state benefits. According to Royal London research, 3,524 out of an estimated 160,000 eligible carers claimed National Insurance credit in 2016/17. This means only 3% of carers benefitted from a scheme that’s designed to help them build up their right to a better state pension.

While this is an extreme example, it’s not unique. Research from the Resolution Foundation found that 300,000 unemployed or low earning people are missing out on state financial support worth at least £73 a week.

And, according to data from the Department for Work and Pensions, up to £12.4bn of means-tested benefits (where the amount of income and savings you have can affect your eligibility) were left unclaimed in 2015/16. This amount included pension credit, housing benefit, jobseekers and employment support allowance.

How to take action

It can be tricky working out whether or not you’re entitled to any benefits. Some are means-tested, while others, such as Statutory Sick Pay, aren’t. To make things more complicated, the system’s changing with the gradual introduction of Universal Credit, which will replace six means-tested benefits.

Both Royal London and the Resolution Foundation have called for the Government to do more to boost take-up of benefits by people who need financial support. You can also take action by checking you’re not missing out on any benefits you could qualify for.

There are several online calculators that can help identify your eligibility for income-related benefits, Tax Credits, Council Tax Reduction, Carer’s Allowance and Universal Credit. These include:

Age UK also has a benefits calculator, and can help with age-related benefits such as Winter Fuel Payment, free TV licenses and bus passes, and the Pension Credit. Their website includes useful information on how to claim each type of benefit, and staff at local Age UK branches can also answer questions and help people fill in forms.

If you prefer talking to someone, either face-to-face or on the phone, Citizens Advice can help you work out what benefits you might be eligible for, and give you information about how to claim them. Visit their website for more information on how to book an appointment and where to find your nearest branch.

Common benefits claimed in the UK. This image is an infographic and has alternative text available if you are using a screen reader.

Common benefits claimed in th UK

  • Attendance Allowance: A tax-free benefit for people aged 65 or over who are physically or mentally disabled and need to be looked after.
  • Carer's Allowance: A taxable benefit for people who look after someone who is disabled.
  • Child Benefit: A partially mean-tested benefit for parents.
  • Council Tax Reduction: Help for people on low incomes or claiming benefits to pay their council tax bill.
  • Housing Benefit: A benefit aimed at people on a low income and paying rent.
  • Income Support: For people on low incomes who are not signed on as unemployed.
  • Jobseeker's Allowance: The main benefit for people of working age who are out of work, or work less than 16 hours a week (on average).
  • Pension Credit: Guarantees a minimum income to people of state pension age by topping up their weekly income.
  • State Pension: A weekly payment made to all people who have reached state pension age.
  • Statutory Maternity and Paternity Pay: For new mothers, paid up to 39 weeks after birth, and for new fathers paid for up to two weeks.
  • Statutory Sick Pay: A standard rate payable by employers for up to 28 weeks if someone is unable to work through illness.
  • Tax Credits (child and working): Benefits that provide extra money to people responsible for children, disabled workers and other workers on lower incomes.
  • Universal Credit: A new benefit replacing six existing means-tested benefits.
  • Winter Fuel Payment: Paid to people aged 65 and over to help pay heating bills.

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