Karen Holmes from Turn2us, a free service helping people in financial need, explains how you might get extra help
1. Claim what you're entitled to
Government figures show that a staggering £19 billion in welfare benefits and tax credits go unclaimed every year. There is often a lack of awareness of what people could be entitled to or they are reluctant to claim due to the perceived stigma attached. Yet every day we hear from people who have said that benefits have made a big difference in helping with housing costs, bills and other essentials.
Use the Benefits Calculator to check you’re not missing out on any support.
2. Benefits for those in-work
There is sometimes a misconception that you have to be unemployed to claim welfare support, and as a result, people who are in-work but on low incomes may not realise that help is available. In fact, three-fifths of low income workers had not even checked their eligibility for this support or didn’t know how to check.
If you’re working but struggling to make ends meet, it is worth checking if you may be entitled to any benefits or tax credits, especially if you have recently experienced a change in your working hours or income.
3. Extra help
Claiming welfare benefits could also act as a trigger for other sources of financial help. For example, if you receive certain benefits you may be eligible for help from your energy supplier towards the cost of insulation and boiler repairs or replacements, as well as a one-off discount on your energy bill.
Receiving certain benefits may also make you eligible for help with health costs and housing costs, so it is worthwhile ensuring you are getting this help if entitled.
4. Grant-giving charities
We found that over two-thirds of the people we help were completely unaware of charitable grants before they came to us. Yet there are over 3,000 grant-giving charities available in the UK, distributing £288 million in grants and services to individuals in need every year.
Each grant-giving charity is set up to assist people on low incomes according to their current or previous occupation, the area they live or for a specific health condition or disability. They can often provide one-off grants to pay for essential household items or repairs, educational grants to help with the costs of educational and training courses and also non-financial support such as financial advice and debt counselling.
You can check your eligibility for grants and other support according to your particular needs and circumstances by using the Grants Search tool.
5. Help for dependents
Many grant-giving charities will also help the dependents of people their fund is set up to support – including partners, ex-partners and children. If you are looking for a grant for yourself, as well as searching according to your own circumstances, try searching on your partner’s background and check the eligibility criteria for any relevant charities – they may be able to help.
It’s also worth remembering that if the financial support you need exceeds the limits of one particular charity, you may be able to get the rest from another organisation that you or your partner has a connection to.