Are You Claiming for Everything You Can?

One of the things that I have heard recently on the radio and television is that many people do not know what their full entitlement to benefits might be.  This has been the case for as long as I can recall and despite living in the age of communication, it seems that these important messages are not getting through.  There has been a lot of talk in the news recently, to do with benefits because of Government plans to place a 1% cap on increases and because of attempts to place a £26,000-a-year ceiling on the amount any household can claim.

If you have questions about benefits and what you might be entitled to claim, you should be able to find plenty of helpful advice on line.  If you don’t have your own computer you could try going to your library and asking for help with finding things out or, you might have a Gateway near to you that you could contact.  You can look on the government’s web sites or you might like to visit Citizens Advice Bureaux.  The important thing is to keep asking questions until you get enough information to satisfy yourself that you in receipt of your full entitlement.

Not everyone is the Same

Of course, some people may choose to not claim benefits for lots of reasons so this isn’t to say that you are wrong or to suggest that you can’t make your own mind up!  However, if a person or family is going short simply because they do not know about something, then that’s a shame.  Benefits aren’t just there to give people a free ride, they help us all.  Here’s another quick guide from the BBC. Making sure that everyone has at least their basic needs provided for helps ensure good public health and although it might be nowhere near luxurious, helps people maintain an adequate standard of living.  Some media sources as well as some political groups give the impression that everyone who does not claim benefits thinks that everyone who does is a scrounger.  That plainly, is not true; on both counts.  Not everyone thinks that claiming benefits is scrounging and plenty of people who do claim their full entitlement would rather be working and completely self-sufficient.

I recently visited an older person who has a heap of health problems leading to them being confined most of the day to a chair and in need of daily support visits.  As we chatted things through I mentioned Attendance Allowance and the response was, “Oh, I’m not so badly off.”  But that’s not the point.  The purpose of Attendance Allowance is to help people with a disability stay in their homes.  “All well and good,” you might say, because that’s where most of us would like to stay!  But don’t forget, hospital, nursing and residential care are expensive and the government and tax-payer will benefit if every effort is made to keep people in their own homes and in their own communities.  You see, benefits aren’t about giving people a free ride, they are about keeping people well and safe.

Full Entitlement

Age UK reckon:

Every year, as much as £5.5bn of benefits that older people are entitled to go unclaimed – including Council Tax Benefit, Housing Benefit and Pension Credit. Below are some figures that illustrate the problem.

Older People: Full Entitlement to Benefits
Age UK: How many benefits go unclaimed by pensioners every year?

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