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Great Britain

How to check you’re not missing out on thousands of pounds in benefits and Universal Credit

IF you're out of work, you've got kids, you have a low income or you're ill or disabled then you may be able to claim benefits.

People in the UK miss out on benefits and tax credits worth more than a whopping £10billion a year, according to the government's latest data.

That's 1.3million households who failed to claim pension credit - meaning they missed out on £2,500 - or a collective £3.5billion.

Another 1.3million families failed to sign up for housing benefit - losing out on £3,000 each - or a collective £4.2billion.

While a further half a million who were eligible for income support or employment support allowance missed out on £4,500 - amounting to a collective £2.4billion.

And what's worse, is that these figures only take into account four of the main benefits, which means the overall amount people are missing out on could be even higher.

The Sun wants to Make Universal Credit Work

UNIVERSAL Credit replaces six benefits with a single monthly payment.

One million people are already receiving it and by the time the system is fully rolled out in 2023, nearly 7 million will be on it.

But there are big problems with the flagship new system - it takes 5 weeks to get the first payment and it could leave some families worse off by thousands of pounds a year.

And while working families can claim back up to 85 per cent of their childcare costs, they must find the money to pay for childcare upfront - we’ve heard of families waiting up to 6 months for the money.

Working parents across the country told us they’ve been unable to take on more hours - or have even turned down better paid jobs or more hours because of the amount they get their benefits cut.

It’s time to Make Universal Credit work. We want the government to:

  1. Get paid faster: The Government must slash the time Brits wait for their first Universal Credit payments from five to two weeks, helping stop 7 million from being pushed into debt.
  2. Keep more of what you earn: The work allowance should be increased and the taper rate should be slashed from 63p to 50p, helping at least 4 million families.
  3. Don’t get punished for having a family: Parents should get the 85 per cent of the money they can claim for childcare upfront instead of being paid in arrears.

Together, these changes will help Make Universal Credit Work.

Join our Universal Credit Facebook group or email UniversalCredit@the-sun.co.uk to share your story.

To make sure you're not losing out, we've rounded-up three easy, and free to use benefits calculators that you can use to give you an indication of what you may be entitled to.

Before using the tools, make sure you have any financial information to hand, such as bank and savings statements, and information on pensions and existing benefits.

If you're part of a family or live with a partner, get their basic financial information together too as this could affect any eventual claim.

It's also vital to check what you're entitled to given millions of people are moving on to Universal Credit, which sees all of their previous benefits rolled up into one payment.

Once you've used the tools you can use the contact information on Gov.uk to find out how to get the ball rolling and apply for any benefits.

Entitledto's benefits calculator

Entitledto's free benefit calculator estimates your entitlement to benefits, tax credits and Universal Credit.

If you run out of time to complete the form in one go you can save your results and come back later but you will need to sign in or register with the service.

You can do this using Facebook, Google or by setting up an Entitled to account.

If you don't want to register, consumer group MoneySavingExpert.com and charity StepChange both have benefits tools powered by Entitledto's data that let you save your results without logging in.

Instead, you're provided with a unique code to note down and use when you want to revisit the questionnaire.

Policy in Practice's benefits and budgeting calculator

Use Policy in Practice's calculator to not only find out which benefits you could receive but also to understand how your income will change if you're moved on to Universal Credit.

You can also compare your income under the current system to what you might get under Universal Credit.

In addition, the analytics and software company's tool also enables you to find out how much cash you'll have leftover each month after paying for housing costs, and it includes links to claim for benefits.

It claims its tool is award-winning and is used by over 10,000 people every day.

But if you want to save and compare calculations, you will need to set up a free account with Policy in Practice.

Turn2Us' benefits calculator

Charity Turn2Us' benefits calculator works out what means-tested benefits you might be entitled to, as well as whether you qualify for carers allowance.

It points out that it doesn't calculate non-means tested benefits and contributory benefits, but it will include these in your results if you’re already getting them.

What's handy about this calculator is you can save your answers and come back to them at a later date - but you will need to input your email address to do this.

You'll also be given a unique calculation reference code so make sure you note it down in case you need to contact the charity about any problems with your results.

What to do if you have problems claiming Universal Credit

IF you're experiencing trouble applying for your Universal Credit, or the payments just don't cover costs, here are your options:

Apply for an advance - Claimants are able to get some cash within five days rather than waiting weeks for their first payment. But it's a loan which means the repayments will be automatically deducted from your future Universal Credit pay out.

Alternative Payment Arrangements- If you're falling behind on rent, you or your landlord may be able to apply for an APA which will get your payment sent directly to your landlord. You might also be able to change your payments to get them more frequently, or you can split the payments if you're part of a couple.

Budgeting Advance - You may be able to get help from the government to help with emergency household costs of up to £348 if you're single, £464 if you're part of a couple or £812 if you have children. These are only in cases like your cooker breaking down or for help getting a job. You'll have to repay the advance through your regular Universal Credit payments. You'll still have to repay the loan, even if you stop claiming for Universal Credit.

Cut your Council Tax - You might be able to get a discount on your Council Tax or be entitled to Discretionary Housing Payments if your payments aren't enough to cover your rent.

Foodbanks - If you're really hard up and struggling to buy food and toiletries, you can find your local foodbank who will provide you with help for free. You can find your nearest one on the Trussel Trust website.

It was revealed in this year's Spring Statement that benefits will finally increase by £500 for millions next year.

We've also rounded-up your most common questions on Universal Credit, including how much you’re entitled to and what happens if you split with your partner

Plus, we reveal eight ways to get discounts and freebies if you’re on Universal Credit or benefits.

Universal Credit bosses accused of holding 10,000 people to ransom after they lost money by switching benefits

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