NASMA SUPPORTS BENEFITS AWARENESS MONTH THIS APRIL

Posted: 03-04-2013

- Campaign launches with new research revealing 85% of welfare benefit claimants are concerned about forthcoming welfare reform -

A new survey commissioned by Turn2us, part of national charity Elizabeth Finn Care, has found that there is concern and a lack of awareness over major changes that are happening to the welfare system. The findings also cast doubts about how ready people will be to handle their benefit changes which are starting this month and rolling out over the next few years.

Over two-fifths (43%) of people claiming benefits that will be replaced by Universal Credit aren’t aware that their benefits will be affected*. Of those who are aware, over three-quarters (77%) said they are not confident that they know how or when it could affect their benefits, and a staggering 85% are concerned about its introduction.

Similarly, over a third (35%) of people in England currently receiving Council Tax Benefit said they are not aware that they may be required to pay more, or all of their council tax from April**. This is when over two thirds (68%) said that they would have to cut back on heating and food if they had to pay more toward their council tax bill.

Turn2us is running its third annual Benefits Awareness Month campaign this April, supported by NASMA to encourage people in financial need to check their entitlements and prepare for the significant changes to the benefit system that are coming into effect. Turn2us has launched a dedicated website to help anyone who wants to learn more about the changes and their benefits entitlements at www.benefitsawareness.org.uk.

The website offers tips for current claimants and non-claimants through clear fact-sheets as well as a step-by-step decision tree tool to help people work out whether they’ll be affected by any of the changes. The website also features an easy-to-use Benefits Calculator to help users work out or check which welfare benefits and tax credits they may be entitled to.

The introduction of Universal Credit will affect 5m tax credit customers and 3.5m Housing Benefit customers[1]  and will replace Income Support, Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance, Income-related Employment Support Allowance, Housing Benefit, Child Tax Credit and Working Tax Credit. It includes a new requirement for most claimants to apply online and will replace weekly with monthly payments.

Worryingly, the new research shows that there might be problems for future Universal Credit claimants in managing the money they receive.

Nearly two fifths (39%) of current claimants said Universal Credit would make it harder to budget because they’re used to having their benefits paid more frequently, and alarmingly, over a quarter (29%) are concerned that the move to monthly payments means they could get into debt to cover the shortfall of payments.

What’s more, over a third (34%) feel anxious about inputting their personal details online and almost one fifth (17%) are concerned that their computer skills aren’t strong enough to apply for online support. Nearly one tenth (9%) of the claimants said they don’t have easy access to a computer.

Alison Taylor, Director of Turn2us said: “Our latest research findings have confirmed what we have been hearing from the people we help for a number of months; that there is real uncertainty, confusion and concern over the forthcoming changes, despite the fact that there has been much work by the government to simplify the system. It is vital that people are armed with information that’s easy to understand and tailored to their situation.”

Turn2us is working in partnership with a number of charities and organisations across the UK including NASMA for the Benefits Awareness Month campaign, who will help to increase awareness of the help available for those concerned about the changes and how people can access all they’re entitled to.

For more information about the campaign, please visit www.benefitsawareness.org.uk.  

 -ENDS-

 

For more information and interviews with Turn2us case studies or spokespeople, please contact:    Emma Lamberton, Press & Campaigns Officer

Email: Emma.Lamberton@elizabethfinn.org.uk Telephone: 0208 834 9259

 

Notes to Editors

  • *The introduction of Universal Credit is starting with a pilot for new claimants in Oldham, Tameside, Warrington and Wigan in April, and then will be rolled out nationally for new claimants from October 2013. Existing claimants of the benefits Universal Credit replaces will begin to be transferred to the new system if they have a significant change in circumstances and all other existing claimants will start to be transferred after April 2014.
  • **As of April 2013, Council Tax Benefit will be abolished for households in England and councils will have to devise their own local schemes of support for people on low incomes.
  • Research was undertaken in March 2013 by Research Now. The total sample size was 1,012 benefit claimants with an annual household income of £20,000 or less before taxes and deductions.
  • The introduction of Universal Credit and localisation of Council Tax support are two of the major changes to the welfare benefits system which are starting from April 2013. Others include the introduction of Personal Independence Payment replacing Disability Living Allowance, ‘under-occupancy’ changes to Housing Benefit for social housing tenants and the introduction of a benefits cap. For more information, visit www.benefitsawareness.org.uk.
  • For its Benefits Awareness Month campaign, Turn2us is working in partnership with organisations including: Advice Derbyshire, Advice UK, Bank Workers Charity, Chartered Accountants’ Benevolent Association, Family Fund, Family Lives, Foundations, Gingerbread, Home-Start, Jig-So Ceredigion, Musicians Benevolent Fund, National Association of Student Money Advisers, Pennysmart, Royal Agricultural Benevolent Institution, Royal Association for Deaf People, Transact, Zacchaeus 2000 Trust.

 

About Turn2us

  • Turn2us is part of the national charity Elizabeth Finn Care.
  • Turn2us helps people in financial need gain access to welfare benefits, charitable grants and other financial help – online, by phone and face-to-face through our partner organisations.
  • The Turn2us free, accessible website - www.turn2us.org.uk is designed to help people access the money available to them – through welfare benefits, charitable grants and other help.
  • The website has a number of tools to make the process simpler, including a Grants Search, Benefits Calculator and ‘find an adviser’ tool to help locate someone to speak to.
  • Turn2us works in partnership with organisations across the UK, including AdviceUK, Association of Charitable Organisations, Citizens Advice, Child Poverty Action Group, Home-Start UK and Money Advice Trust to develop our services and reach the many millions of people that need our help.


About Elizabeth Finn Care

  • Elizabeth Finn Care is a charity registered in England and Wales: 207812 and Scotland: SC040987.
  • Elizabeth Finn Care is a national charity that helps people in financial need to improve their lives.
  • Elizabeth Finn Care gives direct financial support to people from over 120 occupational backgrounds, and through Turn2us helps millions more people in the UK to access the money available to them through welfare benefits, charitable grants and other financial help.
  • Since being founded in 1897, Elizabeth Finn Care has given away over £130m in direct financial assistance to people in need. In 2011/2012 over 5,000 British and Irish citizens and residents received grants totalling over £4m from Elizabeth Finn Care.