Half of low income households at risk of missing out on vital welfare support
National charity Turn2us has found that of the 48 per cent of low income households missing out on assistance, 87 per cent have seen no improvement to their financial situation over the last year.
The findings uncover some of the reasons why these low income households may not be claiming this support. Of those living in social housing, half (50 per cent) said they had been deterred from checking or claiming potential benefits entitlements because they did not think they would be eligible. In addition, nearly one in seven (13 per cent) feel that recent welfare benefit changes have made it too difficult to apply.
As a result, over three-quarters (76 per cent) have not checked what welfare benefits they could be entitled to within the last year.
Furthermore, three-fifths (60 per cent) of social tenants who don’t currently claim would not consider checking their benefits entitlements if their income dropped, and only 7 per cent would turn to a charity for help. Yet almost a third (30 per cent) would cut back on gas, electricity and other essentials, and over a quarter (27 per cent) would resort to cutting back on food.
The research is released as Turn2us launches its 2016 Benefits Awareness Campaign to help more people in financial hardship to access the welfare support available to them. The charity is urging anyone in need to use its free and confidential Benefits Calculator at Turn2us.org.uk to see what they could be entitled to and how to make a claim. The website also features information on benefits and other help for a range of different circumstances.
The charity’s new research also investigates the impact of welfare benefits and tax credits on low income households who are currently claiming. 88 per cent of social tenants who claim say this extra support has had a positive financial impact, with three-fifths (59 per cent) saying it has helped towards their housing costs. Over half (54 per cent) say the benefits have helped with energy costs and household bills, whilst over a quarter (28 per cent) say they have helped them avoid getting in to debt.
Simon Hopkins, chief executive of Turn2us, said: “Shockingly around £15 billion in welfare support still goes unclaimed every year, and as our findings show, people often feel that benefits simply aren’t for them.
“Through our campaign, we want to show that financial hardship can happen for many different reasons and could affect anyone at any time in their lives. Welfare benefits exist to provide a vital source of support for people in need, and as our research highlights, these can make a positive difference in paying for basic life essentials. We would urge anyone struggling to visit our website today to check what support could be available.”