Martin Lewis issues urgent warning for anyone earning less than £60,000 to make 10 minute check – are you due free cash? | The Sun05/10/2023
MARTIN Lewis is warning those earning less than £60,000 a year to check if they can get extra cash.
It comes after Policy in Practice revealed that £19billion worth of benefits go unclaimed.
In the latest MoneySavingExpert newsletter, Martin said: "We've long urged you to check to make sure you get all the benefits you're entitled to, knowing millions were due a share of billions.
And many most in need of help, often having long paid into the system, are missing out.
"So with permission from Policy in Practice, we've taken its data of the numbers missing out on the main benefits, and added our own info on who can claim each of these many underclaimed benefits, to see if we can help get you what you're due…"
Estimates suggest that a whopping £7.5billion worth of Universal Credit payments go unclaimed every year.
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Plus, £2.9billion of council tax support is going unclaimed by over 2.7million people.
It means that some hard-up families could be missing out on £4,000 a year.
The research found that people aren't claiming benefits and other help for several reasons.
For example, some find application forms or websites too complex while others have no idea that the help is out there or that they're eligible.
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While the stigma and other negative perceptions people have about asking for help is also stopping them from applying.
Here's a full list of all the benefits you could be missing out on and how to apply.
Universal Credit – worth £9,600 a year
Around 1.25million households are missing out on the valuable cash that Universal Credit provides.
Martin Lewis said: "The catch-all monthly benefit to support those of working age (both in and out of work) with living and housing costs.
"Who's likely missing out? Households with lower incomes, or up to roughly £40,000 a year if you've kids, high childcare costs and rent.
"If you've checked before, check again as Universal Credit rates went up in April."
We have a guide which covers everything you need to know about Universal Credit.
Council tax support – worth £1,000s every year
Roughly three million households are not claiming council tax support when they're eligible to do so.
Martin said: "Every council runs its own scheme, so what you get depends on where you live, but it can cut your council tax bill by up to 100%.
"Who's likely missing out? If you qualify for means-tested benefits like Universal Credit or Pension Credit, you're often due this, but it's not automatic, YOU MUST APPLY, which is why so many miss out."
We've previously explained all the council tax support households can get.
Carer's allowance – worth up to £4,000 a year
Half a million households are missing out on carer's allowance.
Martin said: "This is a specific payment for some who act as unpaid carers – whether for a family member, spouse, child, or even someone you're not related to.
"Who's likely missing out? You must care for someone who gets attendance allowance, or some on PIP or disability living allowance; spend 35+ hours a week helping with everyday tasks like washing, cooking and shopping; and earn less than £123/wk (after tax) or have a low state pension."
We've previously explained how to claim the benefit.
Pension Credit – worth £3,500 a year
Over 850,000 pensioners aren't claiming Pension Credit even though they're entitled to it.
Martin said: "Pension Credit tops up your income. On average it's worth £3,500/yr, but claim even if you're only due 50p, as its SUPERPOWER is to qualify you for extra benefits like council tax reduction and free TV licences.
"Who's likely missing out? Tough to say, but definitely check if you're of state pension age and have a weekly income below £220ish (£320 if you're a couple, both of state pension age)."
It's also important to apply for Pension Credit by May 19 to ensure that you qualify for the government's £301 cost of living payment.
The Sun spoke to a 73-year-old who is now thousands of pounds better off thanks to Pension Credit.
Child benefit – worth on average £2,075 a year
Over 750,000 families are missing out on £1,000s in child benefit payments every year.
Martin said: "Child benefit is a monthly payment for those with parental responsibilities for children under 16 (and those under 20 if in full-time education) providing no parent earns over £60,000.
"Who's likely missing out? Some new parents don't realise you must register for child benefit. Others don't claim as they were higher earners but their circumstances have changed and are newly eligible."
We've explained who's missing out and how to claim.
Housing benefit – worth on average £5,000 a year
A quarter of a million pensioners are missing out in £1,000s worth of rent help every year.
Martin said: "For eligible under-66s, it's automatically part of Universal Credit, but not for those of state pension age.
"Who's likely missing out? Renters eligible for Pension Credit, for instance, on a relatively low income.
"When you apply for Pension Credit, you can usually apply for housing benefit at the same time. If you already get Pension Credit, apply with your local council."
We've previously explained how housing benefit works.
Free school meals – worth £500 a year
Over 250,000 families are missing out on free school meals.
Martin said: "It provides a cooked meal served to eligible under-18s during the school day.
"Who's likely missing out? Many new Universal Credit claimants (who don't realise you can only apply when you've had your first Universal Credit payment) and others who don't know they must re-register at the start of every year for each child."
We have a guide on free school meals and how to apply.
Water social tariffs – worth £160 a year
Over 5.7million households could slash their water bills thanks to social tariffs.
Martin said: "Every water company has a social tariff scheme for those on low incomes.
"Who's likely missing out? Fewer than 2 in 10 that are eligible are getting the help they need, with nearly £1 billion in unclaimed support."
Broadband social tariffs – worth £20 a month
Some 5.3million households are missing out on savings worth £20 a month on their broadband contracts.
Martin said: "Social tariffs are discounted broadband deals offered by some firms to people on Universal Credit, Pension Credit and sometimes other means-tested benefits.
"Who's likely missing out? Only 3% of those eligible have signed up, so if you're on Universal Credit especially, check it out."
We've previously explained everything you need to know about social broadband tariffs.
How do I check if I'm entitled to benefits?
If you are not receiving benefits currently, it's worth checking if you are eligible for any.
Not only will you start receiving money from the benefit, it might make you eligible for one of the cost of living payments.
A number of charities have benefits calculators that you can use to work out what you are entitled to, including:
- Policy in Practice
Before checking, make sure you've got all the relevant paperwork to hand, including bank statements and any information on pensions or existing benefits.
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Remember, you'll have to give information about yourself including age and who you live with too.
It's all worth bearing in mind any benefit calculator tools will only give you an indication of what you could get, they're not always 100% accurate.
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