Nearly a million people across the UK could be losing thousands of pounds on Universal Credit payments, a charity has revealed.
Turn2Us estimates that a staggering £15 billion has been left unclaimed, averaging roughly £2,900 per unclaimed benefit, simply because many people currently in work don’t realize, or think, that they’re eligible to apply for Universal Credit. .
A common reason people lose financial support from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) and HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) is due to a lack of understanding about Universal Credit eligibility requirements and how, even if someone you are working, you may qualify for the benefit.
New applicants may not be entitled to the full amount of the benefit, but may be eligible for elements of it, including a reduction in council taxes or help paying rent. It could also help raise wages for low-income earners or provide support for people over state pension age through the pension credit.
In the past, people with low incomes applied for tax credits to work, however this is a legacy benefit that is being phased out as applicants migrate to Universal Credit.
Turn2Us said the complexity of the benefits system when making a new claim could also put people off, along with an unfounded embarrassment about claiming benefits.
The Labor Party recently pledged to review the benefits system, including giving it a new name to end the stigma around Universal Credit.
A UK government spokesman said it has already supported three million new Universal Credit applicants and raises awareness through campaigns, advertisements and social media.
The spokesman said: “We encourage anyone who thinks they might be entitled to Universal Credit to check and claim what they are entitled to. There are a number of benefit calculators available on gov.uk.”
How to claim universal credit
The UK government states that a person can get Universal Credit if:
You have low income or are out of work.
You are 18 years old or older (there are some exceptions if you are between 16 and 17 years old)
You are under state pension age (or your partner is)
You and your partner have £16,000 or less in savings between you
you live in the UK
If you live with your partner, their income and savings will be considered, even if they are not eligible for Universal Credit.
It’s worth noting that you won’t be able to get any of the means-tested benefits if your capital and savings exceed the upper limit of £16,000.
However, your savings and capital (or your partner’s savings, capital and income) are not taken into account when claiming the ‘New Style’ Job Seeker Allowance (JSA) and this particular benefit can be obtained at the same time. than Universal Credit, or on your own.
‘New Style’ JSA is a contribution-based benefit. This means you can get it if you have paid enough National Insurance (NI) contributions in the two full tax years prior to the year you are claiming.
It is paid biweekly and, if you qualify, you can get ‘New Style’ JSA for up to 182 days.
If you qualify for both ‘New Style’ JSA and Universal Credit, any ‘New Style’ JSA you receive will count as income toward Universal Credit.
To make a Universal Credit claim, visit the gov.uk website here and for more information on how to claim Jobseeker’s Allowance, read more here.
Universal Credit October – March 2022 (monthly rates shown)
Joint claimants, both under 25: £403.93
Joint claimants, one or both over the age of 25: £509.91
What if you have a job?
There is no limit to the number of hours you can work while claiming Universal Credit, but only people with low incomes are eligible, and this threshold depends on individual circumstances.
The amount a working person receives depends on how much they earn.
It is reduced as someone earns more: for every £1 a claimant earns at their job, their payment will be reduced by 55 pence, with the aim of gradually reducing their payments until they are financially independent.
That is, unless the person is eligible for Work Allowance, which includes those who have the responsibility of a child and those whose ability to work is affected by a disability or health condition.
In these circumstances, they will be able to earn up to a fixed amount without their benefits being affected.
The fixed amount is £335 per month for people who already have extra help to cover housing costs and £557 per month for people who don’t.
For anything they win over that amount, the £1 to 55p rule will apply.
You may be able to get money to help pay your housing costs. The amount you receive depends on your age and circumstances, but the payment may cover rent and some utility charges.
If you’re a homeowner, you may be able to get a loan to help with interest payments on your mortgage or other loans you’ve taken out on your home.
What documents do you need to apply for Universal Credit
The data of your bank account, mortgage credit society or credit union
An e-mail address
Information about your home, such as how much rent you pay
Details of your income, for example, payroll
Details of savings and any investments, such as stocks or a property you rent
Details of how much you pay for child care if you are applying for help with child care costs
If you don’t provide the correct information when you apply, it may affect when you get paid or how much you get.
Verifying your identity online
You will need some proof of identity for this, for example your:
Debit or credit card
To make a Universal Credit claim, visit the gov.uk website here
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You can also use a separate benefit calculator to find out:
These calculators are free to use, anonymous, and could indicate the benefits you are missing out on.
where to find help
Direct Council Scotland
This new online tool is the first to fully integrate delegated benefits, including the new Scottish Child Payment.
Provides a free, unbiased assessment of eligibility for a variety of benefits such as Universal Credit, crisis grants, and support payments.
Information about income-related benefits, tax credits, council tax relief, caregiver allowance, universal credit, and how your benefits will be affected if you start work or change your work schedule
Policy in practice
Information about income-related benefits, tax credits, contribution-based benefits, council tax relief, caregiver allowance, universal credit, how they are calculated, and how your benefits will be affected if you start working or change your work hours
Information about income-related benefits, tax credits, contribution-based benefits, council tax relief, caregiver allowance, universal credit, and how your benefits will be affected if you start working
what will you need
You will need accurate information about your:
Income, including your partner’s
Existing benefits and pensions (including people who live with you)
Expenses (such as rent, mortgage, child care payments)
Municipal Tax Bill
For more information on Universal Credit, visit the GOV.UK website here.
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