People on low incomes may be missing out on vital financial support at time of welfare reform
As its Benefits Awareness Month campaign continues, the charity Turn2us has published new research showing that those who could be in most need of financial help are not accessing the support potentially available to them.
The results reveal that over three-quarters (78%) of people on low incomes who are currently not claiming any means-tested benefits* do not think they would be entitled to any support. This is despite the fact that over a fifth (22%) had experienced a decrease in income over the past year, and over one in ten (11%) had seen a reduction in their working hours. Worryingly, over a third (34%) said they were either unlikely to check their benefits entitlements should a major change in their circumstances occur in the future, or unsure if they would do so.
The findings also suggest that the current changes to the welfare benefits system could further deter people from making a claim. Of those who are aware of the changes, nearly half (48%) believe it will be harder for people to make a claim, and over two-fifths (42%) believe that claimants will be worse off financially, once they have taken effect.
Turn2us is currently running is third Annual Benefits Awareness Month campaign, which is supported by a number of charities and organisations, to raise awareness of the welfare benefits changes and also to encourage anyone who may be struggling financially to check what support could be available to them.
The campaign website – www.benefitsawareness.org.uk – features a free and easy-to-use Benefits Calculator that allows users to work out which welfare benefits and tax credits they might be entitled to, possible amounts they might receive and how to make a claim.
The website also contains clear factsheets with up to date information about the benefits changes, with details on who will be affected, and when.
Alison Taylor, Director of Turn2us said: “More than ever before, welfare benefits are being subjected to extensive political and media debate, and as the changes are coming in to effect, we know it is a confusing and uncertain time for those already claiming and those unsure if they are eligible or whether to make a claim.
Yet we also know that over £19 billion in welfare benefits still goes unclaimed every year, and it is vital that at this time of change, people in financial need are not deterred from accessing the support available to them. It’s worthwhile anyone who is struggling financially doing a quick benefits check, especially if they’ve recently experienced a change in circumstances which could affect their entitlements.”
The campaign runs until 30th April 2013. For more information, please visit www.benefitsawareness.org.uk.
* Research was undertaken in March 2013 by Research Now. The total sample size was 1,014 adults with an annual household income of £20,000 or less before taxes and deductions who are currently not claiming any of the following benefits: Income-based Jobseekers Allowance, Income-related Employment and Support Allowance, Income Support, Working Tax Credit, Child Tax Credit and Housing Benefit.