5 benefits you could be missing out on

Family on sofa checking their benefit entitlement

Not sure if you’re entitled to extra income from the government? Well, you’re not alone. Each year, around £15 million of benefits remain unclaimed. To help you work out if you’re missing out on benefits that you’re eligible for, we’re running through the top five benefits that regularly go unclaimed each year.

1. Council Tax Reduction

Research by entitledto shows that around 2,770,000 households don’t claim Council Tax Reduction. As the name suggests, Council Tax Reduction gives you a discount on your council tax if your household meets certain criteria.

You may be able to reduce your council tax if:

  • You’re the only adult living in your property – you could get a 25% discount on your council tax bill
  • Everyone in the property is counted as ‘disregarded’ – then you’ll get a 50% reduction in your council tax. ‘Disregarded people’ include people such as: those under 18, those in education or training, temporarily away from home (i.e. a long-term hospital patient), people with learning disabilities or severe mental impairment and Ukrainian citizens (i.e. if you’re hosting a Ukrainian citizen in your home)
  • Everyone in the property is a student – you don’t need to pay any council tax
  • Everyone in the property is severely mentally impaired – you don’t need to pay any council tax
  • Your property is empty
  • Your property is a holiday home or second home
  • Your property is an annex with a family member living in it – in this case, you will only need to pay 50% council tax if the annex is used by yourselves or immediate family members. If the family member is a dependant or the annex is empty, you won’t need to pay council tax on it
  • You live with a person who is disabled
  • You’re on a low income

Think you qualify? You can apply for Council Tax Reduction and you’ll get a discount if you’re eligible.

If you don’t qualify but are still struggling to pay for essentials, you might be able to get a discretionary reduction. You’ll need to apply to your council and usually you’ll also need to show evidence of hardship.

2. Pension Credit

Pension Credit gives those of State Pension age extra money to help with their living costs. If you’re over the State Pension age and on a low income, you might be eligible. Around 770,000 people who are entitled to Pension Credit don’t claim it each year.

You can check if you are eligible for Pension Credit and if you are, you can apply online.

If you are eligible for Pension Credit, there’s other financial support that you may also be entitled to. These include:

  • Housing Benefit
  • Council Tax Discount
  • A free TV licence if you’re aged 75 or over
  • Support for Mortgage Interest if you own your own home
  • Help with NHS dental appointments, opticians and getting to hospital appointments
  • Warm Home Discount to help with energy bills

3. Child Benefit

Around 575,000 families don’t claim Child Benefit each year. Child Benefit is available to you if you’re responsible for a child who is:

  • Under the age of 16
  • Under the age of 20 and is in approved education or training

Only one person can claim Child Benefit for a child, but there’s no limit on how many children you can claim for. So for instance, if you and your partner are bringing up four children, one of you can claim for all four children, however you can’t both claim for the same child. Child Benefit is paid every four weeks.

If you or your partner earn over £50,000, you’ll have to pay back some of your Child Benefit in tax. Despite this, there are still benefits to claiming Child Benefit even if you end up paying the entire sum back. This is because Child Benefit also gives you:

  • National Insurance Pension Credits which count towards your State Pension
  • Your child will automatically receive a National Insurance number when they turn 16

If you’re eligible for Child Benefit, you’ll receive:

  • £21.80 for the eldest or an only child
  • £14.45 for any additional children

Think you’re eligible? You can apply for Child Benefit by filling in the Child Benefit claim form CH2 and sending it to the Child Benefit office. It can be a 16 week wait for claims to be processed, so if you think you’re entitled to child benefit, get your application in as soon as possible.

4. Housing Benefit – pension age

Housing Benefit can help you pay your rent if:

  • You’ve reached State Pension age
  • You’re in supported, temporary or sheltered housing

If you live with a partner, you both need to have reached State Pension age, or you can claim if one of you has reached State Pension age and has been claiming Pension Credit for you as a couple since before 15th May 2019.

However there are a few reasons why you might not be eligible for Housing Benefit. These include:

  • You have savings of £16,000 or more – unless you get Credit of Pension Credit
  • You’re paying a mortgage on a home you own
  • You’re already claiming Universal Credit

To check if you’re eligible, take a look at the Housing Benefit eligibility criteria. If you think you are eligible, you can make a claim.

5. Universal Credit

Around 1,190,400 families who are entitled to Universal Credit don’t claim it each year. Universal Credit is a monthly payment designed to help with your living costs. Universal Credit has replaced following legacy benefits:

  • Working Tax Credit
  • Housing Benefit for those of a working age
  • Child Tax Credit
  • Income-Based Job Seekers Allowance
  • Income Support
  • Income-Based Employment and Support Allowance

Currently, you can still receive legacy benefits but it’s not possible to make a new claim for them. Everyone will have to switch to Universal Credit by 2024, but you can continue receiving your old benefits until then if you wish. If you’re not sure about whether or not you’ll be better off switching to Universal Credit early, it’s best to speak to an adviser at Citizen’s Advice.

You can claim Universal Credit if you’re on a low income or need help with everyday costs. To be eligible for Universal Credit, you need to:

  • Live in the UK
  • Have less than £16,000 in savings
  • Be aged 18 or over (there are some exceptions for 16 to 17 year olds)
  • Be under State Pension age

To find out more, check the Universal Credit eligibility criteria. How much you’ll receive depends entirely on your circumstances, your age, if you’re in couple, if you have children, if you have a disability or health condition, and if you need help paying your rent.

The standard monthly allowances are:

  • £256.31 if you’re single and under 25
  • £334.91 if you’re single and over 25
  • £416.45 if you’re in a couple and under 25 (for you both)
  • £525.72 if you’re in a couple and over 25 (for you both)

However, depending on your circumstances, you may be able to claim more. If you think you might be eligible for Universal Credit, you can apply online.

Think that you could be missing out on extra income from the government? You can easily check using the free entitledto tool in myfreedom.

Simply sign in, head to the Marketplace and click on entitledto. This handy tool will quickly let you know if you’re entitled to help with your living costs.

Not got a myfreedom account? You can register for free today.