MARTIN Lewis has warned that millions of households are missing out on free cash to help with the cost of living.
In the latest MoneySavingExpert newsletter, Martin Lewis warned that those with household incomes under £40k should check if they're entitled to free cash support.
Checking to see what help you might qualify for is quick and easy, but plenty of people miss out because they assume they're not eligible because they work for example.
But Martin said: "Household income under £40,000? Spend a few minutes to check you're not one of seven million missing out on benefits."
In response to this advice on MoneySavingExpert fan posted on the website's forum and said: "Thanks to a link I spotted in one of Martin's weekly emails, I discovered I was entitled to some Universal Credit to boost my income.
"I'm now receiving over £500 a month extra – which is helping me a great deal."
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According to Martin, the main thing to remember is that benefits are not just for the unemployed.
State support is there to help those in a range of different situations and millions who work are entitled to extra cash.
We've explained below what you could be missing out on and how to check if you're entitled to extra cash.
What might you be missing out on?
Some of the benefits that people regularly don't claim include council tax support, Universal Credit and pensions credit.
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At least seven million people in the UK are missing out on a whopping £15billion worth of benefits, according to the latest figures from Turn2us.
For example, it estimates 2,770,000 people are missing out on council tax support.
Around one million people are also missing out on Universal Credit.
And up to 850,000 are missing out on pension credit.
Council tax support
You can apply for a council tax reduction if you're on a low income or claim other benefits.
Depending on your circumstances, you could get your bill reduced by up to 100%.
Exactly what discount you get depends on factors including:
What you get depends on:
- Where you live – each council runs its own scheme, with different rules
- Your circumstances – including number of children, benefits, residency status
- Your household income – including savings, pension and a partner’s income
- If your children or other adults live with you
For instance, if you're the only adult in your household, you automatically get 25% off your bill, but many people get far more.
To apply, enter your postcode into this government website, and then head to your local council to see what's available.
Universal Credit is a welfare scheme which was designed to combine a number of old "legacy benefits" into a single monthly payment.
Instead of receiving smaller amounts of different benefits, you receive one monthly payment under Universal Credit – or twice monthly for some people in Scotland.
Universal Credit payments are made up of a standard allowance and then various additional payments that depend on your circumstances.
This is how much you will get as your standard allowance each month:
- Single, under 25 – £265.31
- Single, 25 or over – £334.91
- Couple, joint claimants both under 25 – £416.45 (for both of you)
- Couple, joint claimants, one or both 25 or over – £525.72 (for both of you)
And you may get additional payments, for instance, if you:
- have children
- have a disability or health condition which prevents you from working
- need help paying your rent
Whether you are eligible will depend on your specific circumstances.
You may be eligible if you meet all of the following criteria:
- you’re on a low income or out of work
- you’re 18 or over (there are some exceptions if you’re 16 to 17)
- you’re under State Pension age (or your partner is)
- you and your partner have £16,000 or less in savings between you
- you live in the UK
You can apply for Universal Credit on Gov.UK.
Pensioners with an income of less than £200 a week, or couples with less than £300 a week should check whether they are entitled to pension credit.
Low-income retirees can get more than £3,500 a year to support everyday costs through pension credit.
To qualify, you'll need to have a weekly income of less than £182.60 for single people or £278.70 for couples.
There are two parts to the benefit and pensioners can be eligible for one or both parts:
- Guarantee credit – tops up your weekly income to a guaranteed minimum level. This is £182.60 a week if you're single and £278.70 a week for married couples.
- Savings credit – provides extra money if you've saved money towards retirement. You can get an extra £14.48 a week for a single person or £16.20 a week for a married couple.
You may also get additional pension credit if you are disabled, have caring responsibilities or have to pay certain housing costs such as mortgage interest payments.
For instance, you can get either £56.35 a week or £66.85 per week for each child or young person you’re responsible for.
You can start your application up to four months before you reach state pension age.
Applications for pension credit can be made on the government website or by ringing the pension credit claim line on 0800 99 1234.
How to check what benefits you could be entitled to
The quickest way to see what benefits you may be able to claim is to use one of the three benefit calculators recommended by Gov.uk.
Each one is free to use. They are:
- Policy in Practice
Before using the tools, make sure you have key financial information to hand, such as bank and savings statements, and information on pensions and existing benefits.
If you live with a partner or family, get their basic financial information together too as this could affect your claim.
For each of these, you’ll be asked information about your circumstances, such as your current employment and income.
You’ll also need to give information about yourself, including your age and who you live with.
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You can then use the contact information on Gov.UK to get the ball rolling and apply for what you're owed.
Of course, the tools only provide an indicator of what benefits you can claim – and usually don't include means tested benefits, so you may be entitled to even more.
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