Low income households missing out on welfare support

By agency reporter
May 12, 2016

New research by the national charity Turn2us has found that 48 per cent of low income households are not claiming the welfare benefits and tax credits they could be entitled to. This is despite the fact that 87 per cent of this group have seen no improvement to their financial situation over the last year.

Fifty-seven per cent of those not receiving this support said they had been deterred from checking or claiming potential benefits entitlements because they did not think they would be eligible. In addition, 22 per cent of households with children said they were unsure of how or where to find out about this help, whilst 25 per cent of people with disabilities felt recent welfare benefit changes have made it too difficult to apply.

 As a result, 81 per cent have not checked what welfare benefits they could be entitled to within the last year. This is highest for full-time (86 per cent) and part-time workers (87 per cent), suggesting they may not be aware of in-work benefits which exist to top-up low incomes.

Furthermore, 66 per cent would not consider checking their benefits entitlements if their income dropped, and only four per cent would turn to a charity for help. Yet 37 per cent said they would cut back on gas, electricity and other essentials, and 30 per cent would resort to cutting back on food.

 The research is released as Turn2us launches its 2016 Benefits Awareness Campaign to help more people in financial hardship to access the welfare support available to them. The charity is urging anyone in need to use its free and confidential Benefits Calculator at Turn2us.org.uk to see what they could be entitled to and how to make a claim. The website also features information on benefits and other help for a range of different circumstances.

 The charity’s new research also investigates the impact of welfare benefits and tax credits on low income households who are currently claiming, with 88 per cent saying this extra support has had a positive financial impact. Half say that the benefits have helped towards their housing costs and food, 27 per cent say they have helped them avoid getting in to debt.

 Simon Hopkins, Chief Executive of Turn2us said: “Shockingly around £15 billion in welfare support still goes unclaimed every year (Source: DWP and HMRC, 2013-14), and as our findings show, people often feel that benefits simply aren’t for them.

 “Through our campaign, we want to show that financial hardship can happen for many different reasons and could affect anyone at any time in their lives. Welfare benefits exist to provide a vital source of support for people in need, including those who are in-work, and as our research highlights, these can make a positive difference in paying for basic life essentials. We would urge anyone struggling to visit our website today to check what support could be available.”

* All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from a survey conducted with Research Now in March 2016. Total sample size was 1,512 adults with annual household incomes of £25,000 and less before tax and deductions. Results were then analysed for those who were claiming means-tested benefits and tax credits, and those who were not claiming any means-tested benefits or tax credits.

* Turn2us is a national charity that helps people in financial hardship to gain access to welfare benefits, charitable grants and support services – online, by phone and face to face through partners and volunteers www.turn2us.org.uk

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