Council says Swindon people's benefits are still going unclaimed

By Swindon Link - 25 January 2023

Community

Swindon Borough Council says people making sure to claim benefits they’re entitled to can help to tackle the cost of living crisis.

The council says an estimated £15bn in benefits goes unclaimed each year.

This includes 1.3m families who don’t take up an offer of up to £2,000 a year for childcare costs, and around 850,000 eligible households who are missing out on Pension Credit, worth an average of £1,900 a year. Could you be one of them?

Taking a few minutes to use one of the online benefits calculators could open the door to hundreds of pounds extra per month for food, bills and fuel – just search ‘benefits calculator’ online.

A list of 19 measures which can potentially help with the cost of living is available on the council’s website at www. swindon.gov.uk/costofliving

Some of the measures sign-posted include:

- Pension Credit, which tops up weekly income to a guaranteed minimum level of £182.60 a week for single pensioners or £278.70 for couples. It is a tax-free payment for those who have reached State Pension age, and live in Great Britain

- If Housing Benefit or Universal Credit doesn’t cover all your rent, check to see if you can make a claim for a discretionary housing payment

- Swindon residents of working age who claim means-tested benefits such as Universal Credit or Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), may be eligible to apply for Council Tax Support, which pays up to 80% of your council tax bill

- If you’re a carer, you may be entitled to Carer’s Allowance and/or an extra amount called the ‘carer element’ within Universal Credit, which could mean £69.70 a week in Carer’s Allowance

- If you or your child receive certain benefits, you can apply for free school meals from Year 3 and above

It’s worth taking five minutes to check if you’re missing out on anything which you’re entitled to.

The benefits system can be confusing, so get in touch with Citizens Advice Swindon before you make an application – they can increase the chances of getting accepted. Citizens Advice Swindon also offers in-person advice, so check their website for opening times, www. citizensadviceswindon.org.uk, or call 0808 278 7813.

Getting certain means-tested benefits can also open the door to the several new cost of living payments expected throughout this coming year.

This includes £900 for means-tested benefit claimants that will go direct to bank accounts in three payments over the financial year.

Exact payment windows will be announced closer to the time, but will be spread across a longer period to provide support throughout the year. Those eligible can expect to receive:

- First Cost of Living Payment of £301 during Spring 2023

- Disability Payment of £150 during Summer 2023

- Second Cost of Living Payment of £300 during Autumn 2023

- Pensioner Payment of £300 during Winter 2023/4

- Third Cost of Living Payment of £299 during Spring 2024

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