WITH energy bills set to increase, higher national insurance around the corner and the rising cost of living, many more of us are struggling to make ends meet.
Often people think that they aren’t entitled to benefits if they have a job, but the gurus at Money Saving Expert (MSE) say even families with an income of £50,000 could get some help.
With such a wide range of benefits available, and payments linked to your specific circumstance it can be hard to know where to start.
Fortunately, Money Saving Expert has a 10-minute benefits calculator that can show you what you’re likely to qualify for and how much you could get.
The calculator includes Universal Credit, which is the main source of benefit help for many people.
Unsurprisingly, given the name, using the tool takes just 10 minutes and can give you a head start in working out which benefits you should apply for and how much impact they will have on your finances.
With over half a million people missing out on Universal Credit alone, the quick check is really important to make sure you’re not one of them
The calculator was developed by the charity Entitled To and is simple and easy to use.
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You can access it online via the Money Saving Expert website.
To get started, you’ll need some financial info to hand including details of your savings, income and earnings, pensions, existing benefits and any investments.
Specifically, you will be asked about:
- Your housing status
- Your postcode
- Wether you have a partner
- How many children you have
- Who else lives with you
- Your nationality
- Whether you’ve been impacted by coronavirus
- If you’re in hospital/residential care, a prisoner, on strike, living abroad or a full-time student
- Your employment
- Benefits you already get
- Whether you are ill or disabled, or have caring responsibilities for someone who is
- Your income, including pensions, savings, spousal maintanence, charity work, property ownership, or any other sources
- Your housing costs including council tax
You don’t need to answer every question, but the more detail you can give, the more accurate the calculation will be.
Of course, the actual amount you’re awarded depends on your precise personal circumstances, so it could be different when you go through the benefits process.
It says you should treat the results as a ready reckoner, so you know what benefits are suitable for you and which government department to investigate with.
While the tool does not include every single benefit it does cover the vast majority of them.
Some benefits also confer extra help, such as with heating costs and council tax so it’s well worth claiming anything you qualify for, even if it’s just a small amount.
The list of benefits you can find out about through the calculator are:
Support for low-income households
- Income support
- Income-based jobseeker’s allowance
- Income-based employment and support allowance
- Pension credit
- Housing benefit
- Council tax reduction
- School children: free milk, uniform costs and healthcare help
- Free school meals
- Support for mortgage interest
- Budgeting loans and advances
- Funeral payment
- Council support schemes
- Cold weather payments
Support for those in work
- Jobseeker’s allowance (JSA)
- Working tax credit
Support for families
- Child benefit
- Child tax credits
- Guardian’s allowance
- Statutory maternity/paternity/adoption pay
- Marriage allowance
- Maternity grant
- Maternity allowance
- Widowed parent’s allowance
- Scottish child payment
Support based on health needs
- Attendance allowance
- Personal independence payment
- Carer’s allowance
- New-style employment and support allowance
- Statutory sick pay
- State pension
- Bereavement allowance
- Bereavement support payment
- Winter fuel payments
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