Over £10billion unclaimed in benefits – are you missing out?

According to the Government's latest data on benefits, eligible households collectively failed to claim over £10billion worth of benefits in the 2016/17 financial year.

It found that 1.3million households failed to claim pension credit – meaning they missed out £2,500 – or a collective £3.5billion across Great Britain.

Another 1.3million families failed to sign up for housing benefit – losing out on £3,000 – or a collective £4.2billion.

While a further half a million who were eligible for income support or employment support allowance missed out on £4,500 – amounting to a collective £2.4billion.

What's worse, is that the Government's figures only take into account four of the main benefits, which means the overall amount people are missing out on could be even higher.

What are these benefits?

Pension credit

If you're 65 or older you may qualify for pension credit. This is an income-related benefit made up of two parts – guarantee credit and savings credit.

Guarantee credit tops up your weekly income by up to £163 for single people if your weekly income is below £163, and by up to £248.80 for couples whose weekly income is below £248.80.

Savings credit is an extra payment of up to £13.80 a week for single people and up to £14.99 for couples who have saved some money towards their retirement, for example a pension.

You can claim it by calling: 0800 99 1234

Housing benefit

You could get housing benefit to help you pay your rent if you’re on a low income.

There’s no set amount of housing benefit and what you get will depend on whether you rent privately or from a council.

How you apply for housing benefit depends on whether you're also claiming other benefits. Some may need to claim Universal Credit instead. Read the Government's Housing Benefit help page for more information.

Income support

If you're not in full-time work, have a low income and are not receiving employment support allowance you may be able to claim income support.

You could get up to £73.10 a week if you're single and up to £114.85 if you're in a couple – depending on your circumstances.

To claim, call 0800 055 6688.

Employment support allowance (ESA)

If you're ill or disabled you may be able to claim ESA of up to £110.75 a week – plus more if you're severely disabled.

How to claim depends on what type of ESA you're eligble for – 'new style ESA' or 'contributory and income-related ESA'.

See the Government's ESA help page for more information.

Poverty charity, Turn2us, urges people to check if they're eligible for benefits now.

Its head of communications, Pritie Billimoria, said: “At a time when a rising number of people are living poverty, it is incredibly worrying to see over £10billion of benefits are left unclaimed.

“Welfare benefits are a safety net and too many people are slipping through.

“People all too often presume they’re getting all the financial support available or that they’re not entitled to anything and many also fear that their claim will be rejected.

“It can be difficult to know where to turn for support and daunting to ask for help. But anyone on a low income needs to regularly check that they’re getting all the help available to them.”

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You can use free online calculators to check if you're missing out on vital support. The Government recommends three calculators from Policy in Practice, Turn2us, and Entitledto.

The Government's report says take-up of benefits may be affected by factors such as the attractiveness of the benefit, lack of awareness of the benefit or application procedure, lack of awareness of entitlement, and the perceived stigma of receiving a benefit or other factors.

The Sun has asked the Department for Work and Pensions to comment and we will update this story if it does.

Earlier this month, we reported how one in 10 ads on Zoopla are ‘illegal’ because they exclude people on housing benefits.

Meanwhile, charity AgeUK warned earlier this year that two million Brits missing out on key benefits that they’re due because they’re not online to apply for them.

Here's more information on whether you can you claim Income Support, and whether it's included in Universal Credit or other benefits.

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