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World News

Benefits worth millions left unclaimed says Christian debt charity

by Donna Birrell

Millions of pounds in benefits and income support are being left unclaimed by households, according to Christians Against Poverty (CAP).

Three months ago the debt relief charity launched an online calculator service and more than 21,000 have already used it to check if they’re entitled to extra benefits.

In total over £6m in potential extra annual income has been found that was previously left unclaimed - meaning an extra 2,000 people are likely to see a boost to their household budgets.

CAP’s Director of External Affairs, Gareth McNab, told Premier: “£15bn every year goes unclaimed in social security and benefits. That's money that you and I pay in our taxes to be there for us when life happens. But that’s currently sat on a desk in Whitehall when it should be in people's pockets.

“So over last summer, when the cost of living crisis was beginning to bite, we were exploring what more we can do for people who maybe don't feel like they need to use our services, maybe they're not in the very depths of poverty and problem debt, but maybe they are beginning to be impacted.

“We decided to partner with friends and anti-poverty charities that have many of our aims, to use their benefits calculator and put it on our website to make it as easy as possible for people to identify what they're entitled to. And the numbers were just outstanding.”

It comes at a time when the charity is seeing a significant increase in demand for its services. In 2022, CAP recorded a further 20 per cent rise in calls to its free debt helpline. Requests for emergency crisis aid also shot up, with a 60 per cent rise in emergency food shops carried out for those going hungry, and double the amount of emergency energy top-ups for people struggling to afford to heat their homes.

McNab said: “Millions of people are starting 2023 facing rapidly rising costs, with huge energy bills during the cold of winter, and static incomes falling in value against record levels of inflation.

“Right now, it’s absolutely vital for anyone living on a low income to make sure they are receiving all the support they are entitled to and are aware of the free help available if they are in debt.

“Billions of pounds of benefits are still going unclaimed every year, and that’s why we’ve launched this new benefits calculator on our website, in partnership with our friends at Turn2us.”

You can access CAP's online calculator here


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