Low earners ''totally unaware'' they're missing out on benefits
Many low earners are totally unaware they are missing out on benefits because they don’t realise they are eligible, claims a new survey.
The results have come to light as benefits awareness month kicks off and new Budget cuts are set to affect millions.
The survey by charity Turn2Us reveals that two thirds of those living on low incomes in the UK are not claiming in-work benefits which they may be entitled to.
Nearly nine out of 10 (89%) of low earners surveyed are totally unaware of the existence of these benefits, despite the fact that two thirds have experienced a fundamental change to their working conditions over the past six months, either a decrease in working hours or a change to their salary.
Of those who are aware of the credits available, over a third feel that they may not be for them, little realising that tax credits are potentially available to people struggling to make ends meet.
The charity claims only five million of the 13.5 million people living in poverty in the UK are claiming state support.
Nearly half of those who took part in the survey (48%) who were in receipt of working tax credits said that should they stop, they would have to consider stopping work altogether.
Alison Taylor, director of Turn2us, said: “Many of the individuals who have used Turn2us to access benefits, say that before coming to us they were simply unaware of what they were entitled to or put off from claiming by the sheer complexity of the benefits system and the process of claiming.’’
‘’The survey results clearly show the critical need and the value of ensuring that individuals and families can easily check what benefits they should be receiving, how much and where to claim.”
Turn2us, part of the national charity Elizabeth Finn Care, which commissioned the benefits survey, launches its benefits awareness month campaign today to urge people to log on to its website, www.turn2us.org.uk, and ensure they are receiving all they can.
Individuals can access an easy and quick benefits checker to calculate their possible entitlement to welfare benefits and tax credits.
Leading lifestyle coach Carole Ann Rice warned of the effects on the mental health of people living on a low income.
‘’People may see it as a personal failure,’’ she said.
‘’It isn't, and can provide an essential financial support through a difficult period. It could be a matter of pride that prevents people from seeking out the full extent of benefits they are entitled to.
‘’In some cases it is an ignorance of the system and what can and cannot be claimed for. Hopefully this campaign will illuminate what is on offer to those who are reluctant to claim for fear that they don't comply or aren't entitled.’’