Christians Against Poverty (CAP) is urging people to check whether they are entitled to unexpected benefit payments.
The charity says £19 billion pounds' worth of benefits are unclaimed because people aren't aware they are eligible.
It's launching a campaign to raise awareness and is asking people to check out its online benefits calculator which was launched a year ago.
Gareth McNab who is CAP's Director of External Affairs told Premier:
“The level of social security that people get is inadequate and needs to be higher. It's ironic though that £19 billion each year of our taxes that we've pulled together to help one another out in difficult times, is sat on a desk in Whitehall instead of in people's pockets where it belongs. It is quite tragic. But there are things that we can do and there is hope.”
Gareth McNab said finding out he was eligible for benefits fourteen years ago saved his mental health and his marriage:
“I hadn't understood that I would qualify for any form of benefits or social security. I was working full time, I was a homeowner, why would there be anything for me? But at my wit's end, I checked a benefits calculator with a charity called Turn2Us and discovered that actually, we were entitled to some form of maternity allowance at the time. But that three or four hundred pounds a month was a massively significant amount of money. It saved my mental health because I was deep in anxiety. I believe it saved my marriage too and now, I still believe in the power of putting good information in people's hands.”
CAP says that since it launched the tool a year ago, over 150,000 individuals have completed the online calculation with 14,000 people finding additional income.
The average amount found is £513 a month, totalling around £90million.
Gareth added : “We’ve heard some quite amazing stories of how individuals have checked their own entitlements. So whether they found any extra money for themselves or not, they told their friends, they've told their family, they've turned up at church with an iPad and encouraged people to check. It’s an easy thing that many of us can now do to help reunite people with their entitlements with their money.”
After using the benefits calculator Lisa found that, despite being in work, she was entitled to around £250 of benefits a month that she was previously missing out on:
“I am working, most of the time when you’re working you don’t get anything. That is what I thought. But then I thought it’s only going to take a couple of minutes so just out of curiosity I did it.
“Then I heard back and was told I would be entitled to around £250 extra a month! I went onto the government website and filled in all the forms online and they told me I would be entitled to Universal Credit.
“With the cost of living going up, it has made a huge difference. I can pay my bills. It has kept me out of debt. It has taken a lot of pressure off.”
CAP is urging people to visit capuk.org/calculator to see if they are entitled to more income.