Universal Credit: UK residents urged to look if they’re eligible for £2.9k payout

Universal Credit: Expert discusses benefits of claiming

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As residents across the British Isles prepare for a hike in household bills over the coming months it’s now more important than ever for individuals to keep close tabs on their personal finances. On Monday it emerged that an estimated £15 billion in Universal Credit has been left unclaimed by people who are unaware they meet the eligibility criteria for the benefit. So, could you be in line for a much needed influx of cash? Here’s everything you need to know about whether you qualify to receive Universal Credit.

According to Turn2Us – a British charity which helps people in financial need gain access to welfare benefits, charitable grants and other financial help – nearly one million UK residents could be failing to claim thousands in Universal Credit.

In fact, it believes that a staggering £15 billion has been left unclaimed, averaging out at approximately £2,900 per claimant.

On occassion workers don’t realise they’re eligible to apply for Universal Credit.

Previously, analysts have warned that due to a lack of understanding, people fail to recognise that you don’t have to be unemployed in order to qualify for the benefit.

New claimants for the support from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) and HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) may not be entitled to the full benefit amount, but they could be eligible for elements of it.

This includes a council tax reduction or assistance with making rental payments.

Moreover, it could help increase wages for those on a low income or give people over State Pension age support through Pension Credit.

In the past, those on a low-income would apply for Working Tax Credits. However, this is a legacy benefit – benefits that pre-date Universal Credit – which is gradually being phased out as claimants move to Universal Credit.

Turn2Us has said the complexity of the benefits system when making a new claim might also be putting people off.

Indeed, this could be further exacerbated by a perceived stigma around claiming benefits.

Are you eligible for Universal Credit?

You may be able to get Universal Credit if you’re on a low income or need help with your living costs. You could be working (including self-employed or part time) or be out of work.

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To claim you must:

  • Live in the UK
  • Be aged 18 or over (there are some exceptions if you’re 16 to 17)
  • Be under State Pension age
  • Have £16,000 or less in savings

Readers should note if you live with your partner you will both need to make a claim for Universal Credit, even if one of you is not eligible.

Applications for Universal Credit can also be made by those in full-time education and if you meet any of the following criteria:

  • You live with your partner and they’re eligible for Universal Credit
  • You’re responsible for a child, either as a single person or as a couple
  • You’ve reached State Pension age and live with a partner who is below State Pension age

If you are 16 or 17 you can still make an application depending on whether one of the below applies:

  • You have a health condition or disability and have medical evidence for it, such as a fit note
  • You’re caring for a severely disabled person
  • You’re responsible for a child
  • You live with your partner, have responsibility for a child and your partner is eligible for Universal Credit
  • You’re pregnant and expecting your baby in the next 11 weeks
  • You’ve had a baby in the last 15 weeks
  • You do not have parental support, for example you do not live with your parents and are not under local authority care

Further information about eligibility criteria for making Universal Credit applications can be found at GOV.UK.

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