No doubt about it, so many people that live in the UK don’t know which of the UK benefits and tax credits they can claim.
Benefits in the UK are monetary entitlements giving to people that are eligible to support them financially. But one has to be certified as an eligible claimant before one can claim benefits in the UK.
Whether you are disabled, sick, old or young and whether you are in or out of work, benefits come in different categories and forms which include Income Support, Job-seekers Allowance, tax credits etc.
UK benefits system is complex, with more than 50 benefits, allowances, credits, grants and payments available to people who meet the various conditions of entitlement.
UK benefits and tax credits you’re entitled to?
For instance, so many people don’t even know that there are two forms of jobseeker’s allowance and employment and support allowance. Not only that, there is also a lack of proper understanding of the difference between child tax credit and working tax credit.
Do you know the help available to you if you were long-term unemployed and moving back into work? Did you know that housing benefit is available to people that are working – depending on income and circumstances.
Knowing what benefits are available is especially important as things start to change over the next few years. For example, universal credit will soon replace many working-age, means-tested benefits. Meanwhile, disability living allowance (DLA) for people aged 16 to 64 will soon be replaced by the personal independence payment (PIP).
How to find out benefits you’re entitled to
How can you find out what benefits and tax credits you may be entitled to? Unfortunately, there is no quick or easy answer to this question because it will be difficult to specify as your situation is largely the determinant factor.
So many people struggle to claim what they are entitled to because of the difficulties in specifying which benefits and tax credits they can claim.
Statistics have shown that between £12bn and £16bn of mean-tested benefits go unclaimed every year because so many people do not have a sound understanding of the benefits that can be claimed.
#1). Online resources
If you are literate and feel like doing the bulk of the work on your own, there are various online resources and information on benefits and tax credits you may be entitled to that you can go through for proper understanding.
Meanwhile, organisations such as IncomeMAX, Turn2us and Disability Rights UK all offer internet resource. You could also try speaking to the relevant government departments that administer the benefits system.
#2). Seek expert advice
If you are unsure of what benefits you can claim, you should consider booking an appointment with advice agencies because they can offer help on benefit entitlements. Organisations like Citizens Advice, Advice UK, Age UK, Law Centres offer general guidance. Macmillan (for cancer sufferers and their families), Gingerbread (for single parents), Shelter (for housing issues) and Scope/Dial Network helps those with disabilities with benefits enquiries.
Many of these advice agencies have benefits experts that you can speak to and they will help you find out what benefits and tax credits you may be entitled to after examining your circumstances.
It is the responsibility of a benefit expert who understands the entire benefit system to help you piece together your entitlement. Benefit experts normally start by talking to you about your circumstances, your current income, savings, health issues and housing costs.
So, if you are new to looking into your entitlement, start by finding out all the names of the benefits that are available. Then, continue to stay updated as the system will look very different within a few years.
with additional texts from BBC News website