How to check which benefits you’re entitled to – make sure you’re not losing out

Universal Credit has been a lifeline for Brits this year as the coronavirus pandemic left millions out of pocket.

As businesses grapple with lockdown restrictions, fewer customers and furlough, a fifth of bosses have said they are axing 1 in 10 workers.

Workers put on furlough are losing 20% of their pay-packet – and will be less well off for November as England heads into a second lockdown.

Only essential stores can open, and businesses have been told to work for home unless absolutely necessary.

The second lockdown will see thousands of workers placed on furlough until at least December 2, when lockdown will legally expire.

Struggling households could also look to Universal Credit or for short term loans or grants if things are getting tough.

Millions of Brits don’t claim cash that is available because they aren’t aware they are eligible.

Here's how to check what you can get:

Universal Credit

In the case of Universal Credit, although the term may seem new, it is actually just six benefits rolled into a single payment.

Working tax credit, child tax credit, housing benefit, employment and support allowance, jobseeker’s allowance and income support are merged into a streamlined offer.

You are eligible for the payment if you’re over 18-years-old, out of work or on a low income and have less than £16,000 in your savings.

If you’re single and over 25 the monthly payment is £409.89 and for a couple over 25 it is £488.59.

And there might be more available if you have kids, a disability or a health condition.

If you need help paying housing costs there might be more money available too.

Universal Credit takes around five weeks to be paid into your account from your application.

You can apply via the Government’s website.

If you do not have enough to live on in the meantime you can ask for an advance.

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The money would then be paid back through your Universal Credit Payments, interest fee.

And you can ask for a hardship payment if you can’t afford rent, heating or food because you got a sanction.

Short term loans

If you need help in the short term you might be able to get a government loan.

These are usually paid back over months, or years, and can be paid back out of your Universal Credit payment.

If you have an emergency cost you might be entitled to a Budgeting Advance loan.

You need to have earned less than £2,600 in the past six months (or £3,600 as part of a couple) to apply.

Depending on the size of your family and what savings you have, you may be able to receive as much as £812 through the JobCentre Plus.


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Budgeting loans and grants

Budgeting loans are available for households who have not claimed benefits for six moths.

The cash comes from the government and can help pay for big costs like moving or buying essentials like clothes.

Loans of up to £812 are available here.

Elsewhere you may be entitled to a grant from your council or charity, meaning you don’t have to pay anything back.

Grants are usually for a specific need – for example an energy company might offer struggling customers a fund to pay their bills.

How to check

As well as through the Government's website, there are free calculators online that show you what you are entitled to.

All you have to do is enter your financial information, and your partner’s details if you have one.

Calculators then offer a rough guide of what you are available to claim.

Entitledto, Turn2Us and Policy in Practice all offer support and advice for struggling Brits.

EntitledTo is an online calculator which asks you to fill our a series of questions before offering advice.

Turn2Us is a charity that gives advice and information on benefits, as well as offering a calculator that shows what you are entitled to.

Policy in Practice is similar, and has specific advice on how income can be affected by quarantining, The Sun report.s

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