personal finance

‘Don’t suffer in silence' Britons on Universal Credit urged to check full list of freebies

With the cost of living soaring in 2021, people will be hoping that 2022 will be a better year financially. Already experts are calling it the ‘year of the squeeze’, but there are some things cash strapped Britons can do to make their income stretch.

More than 20 million Britons rely on financial help in the form of Universal Credit, Jobseeker’s Allowance and Pension Credit from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) because they are out of work or on a low income.

2021 was a year like no other as households claiming Universal Credit more than doubled due to the pandemic, while the cost of bills and food increased.

People on benefits can often get their prescriptions for free as well as discounts on fuel bills and additional financial help that they might not be aware of, especially if they are claiming for the first time.

Below is a full list of additional benefits that people on state benefits can usually get for free.

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The latest figures from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) show that Universal Credit is claimed by more than 5.8 million people in the UK and 40 percent of these are in work.

To enquire about these additional benefits, Britons are advised to leave a note in their Universal Credit journal or speak to their local benefits office.

They should also check that they are getting all the government benefits they are entitled to such as Universal Credit or Pension Credit as £15billion goes unclaimed every year.

What’s more, a million pensioners are estimated to be missing out on Pension Credit which can help them survive from month to month and enable them to claim things like a free TV licence.

Despite these figures, the DWP says that nearly two million households claiming Universal Credit are seeing in the New Year with more money in their pockets.

It made some changes at the end of 2021 which saw the Universal Credit taper rate cut to 55 percent.

Together with the increase in existing work allowances by £500 per year, the changes mean many households will be £1,000 a year better off on average.

One person now seeing the benefit of these changes is Gareth, who lives in London and works part-time.

Together with his partner, their household income was £1,058 in their last assessment period.

Under the old taper of 63 percent, their Universal Credit would have been reduced by £667, but thanks to the new taper of 55 percent, they are £85 better off.

Minister for Welfare Delivery David Rutley said: “These changes are already making a real difference by ensuring workers like Gareth keep more of what they earn.

“The taper rate reduction is a huge tax cut for the low paid, and further proof that this Government is fully behind working families as we enter the new year.”


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