THE latest annual analysis from Policy in Practice finds that £22.7 billion in support goes unclaimed every year across the UK. The Missing Out report reveals that 8.4 million people could be missing out on an average of £2,700 per year in rights-based benefits.

This is an increase of £4 billion on earlier estimates which found £19 billion was going unclaimed. The increase is caused by the uprating of benefits, the rollout of Universal Credit and newly released DWP figures.

The overall figure of unclaimed support excludes disability benefits and discretionary support, both of which require a further assessment. Including these elements pushes the true level of unclaimed support to over £30 billion.

Policy in Practice says this amount of support going unclaimed at any time is extraordinary, but particularly so during a cost of living crisis, against a backdrop of more households in negative budgets and rising inequalities in health and educational outcomes.

“This is not just about the money, it’s about the profound impact on people’s lives”, said Deven Ghelani, Founder and Director of Policy in Practice. “Support from the social security system is a right. The failure to deliver support to people who are entitled to it directly affects education, health outcomes and social participation for millions of people. If we don’t address issues now for people in need we will just see costs further rising. We can’t afford not to close the unclaimed support gap.”

While each non-claimant’s circumstances vary, the three main reasons for benefits going unclaimed are:

  • A lack of awareness about available benefits or misconceptions about eligibility.
  • A complex system to navigate with multiple applications and complex eligibility criteria.
  • The stigma attached to the benefits system and misleading narratives about claimants.

A recent claimant said: “Unfortunately, people have to be unrealistically proactive to understand how the systems connect and what they’re eligible for. More often than not this is left to our most vulnerable people or those who care for them, leaving them without the resources they need.”

Policy in Practice says more can and must be done to reduce complexity within the system, change the messaging around benefits, and share data across government.

* The Missing Out 2024 report is available here.

* People can check their own entitlements or do so on behalf of friends and family to see if they are missing out on unclaimed support, using the free benefits calculator here.

* Source: Policy in Practice