THE start of a new year can be daunting if you’re struggling financially, so it’s worth checking what help is available.
We explain how to find out what grants and benefits you might be entitled to – and the help on offer could be worth thousands of pounds.
Benefits could give you extra money on an on-going basis, unless your situation changes.
Grants, meanwhile, are usually one-off payments and often don’t need to be paid back.
It comes as redundancies have hit new record highs with 370,000 workers losing their jobs in the three months to October due to the coronavirus crisis.
The unemployment rate hit 4.9% during this period, with 1.69million people now without a job, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).
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 include:
- Policy in Practice
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.
Once you've used the tools you can 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.
Some of the benefits that people regularly don't claim include Universal Credit, pensions credit and child credit.
Last year over eight million people were missing out.
What benefits are available?
IT’S not just the unemployed who can claim from the welfare state. These are the benefits that are available from the government, broken down into sections:
The six main means-tested benefits have now been merged with Universal Credit. These are:
- Working tax credit
- Child tax credit
- Housing benefit
- Emplyment and support allowance
- Jobseeker's Allowance
- Income support.
- Family benefits
- Child benefit
- Child tax credits
- Guardian's allowance
- Statutory maternity/paternity/adoption pay
- Marriage allowance
- Maternity grant
- Maternity allowance
- Widowed parent's allowance.
Able to work
- Working tax credit
- Contribution-based jobseeker's allowance (JSA).
- Income support
- Income-based jobseeker's allowance
- Income-based employment and support allowance
- Pension credit
- Housing benefit
- Council tax reduction
- Free school meals, milk or uniforms and healthcare
- Support for mortgage interest
- Budgeting loans and advances
- Funeral payment
- Local council support schemes
- Cold weather payments.
Health and disabilities
- Attendance allowance
- Personal independence payment
- Carer's allowance
- Contribution-based employment support allowance
- Statutory sick pay
- State pension
- Bereavement allowance
- Bereavement payment
- Winter fuel payments.
How to check what grants you could be entitled to
Debt charity Turn2Us told The Sun back in August 2020 that there were 8,000 charities and organisations in the UK that offer cash to help struggling families.
Most of the time, you won't need to pay a grant back – but do check this is the case before you apply.
If you're successful, you’ll usually be allowed to spend the money on whatever you need to, but the money is usually provided to help pay bills or buy household essentials like food.
How much a grant is worth depends on the charity or organisation, but Turn2Us told The Sun earlier this year that they're typically between £500 and £10,000.
Turn2Us has a free grants search tool so you can find out what help is available to you.
You’ll need to search for what’s available specifically in your area by entering your postcode.
Next, you’ll be asked to give details about yourself, such as your name and gender.
You can also go into more depth by telling Turn2Us about your current health and employment situation.
Once you’ve found a grant you think you’re eligible for, you can put in an inquiry through Turn2Us.
You'll need to be logged into your Turn2Us account to apply – if you don't have one it's free to sign up.
The amount of time it takes to get a response depends on the charity. For some, it says they’ll reply within five days while others can take 12 weeks.
Martin Lewis has previously urged parents and pensioners to check if they’re entitled to benefits – how to see what you could claim.
How to claim National Insurance credits that you could be missing out on.
Meanwhile, Universal Credit claimants on other benefits have received Christmas bonuses.
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