We hear a lot about people claiming benefits they are not entitled to, but little about those who are not claiming their entitlements . A recent report commissioned by the Joseph Rowntree Trust highlighted this group.
These are often people who are working, probably bringing up children and earning a low wage. They may not be aware that they are entitled to some benefits, or it may be that their circumstances have changed and they have a new child or are no longer earning as much.
Some of the benefits listed below are means tested, but others are available to everyone. The list isn’t exhaustive!
Maternity and Paternity benefits
If you have been working before you have a baby, you may be entitled to Statutory Maternity Pay or Maternity Allowance. If you do not qualify for these because you have not been working for your employer for long enough, you may be able to claim Employment and Support Allowance after 29 weeks of pregnancy if there is a risk to your health or that of your baby. After 10 weeks of pregnancy you may be entitled to free vitamins and healthy Start vouchers for milk, fruit and veg. Other health costs may include free prescriptions, dental treatment and check-ups, eye sight tests and vouchers for glasses and contact lenses. You may also be entitled to travel costs to hospital.
Fathers may be entitled to 2 weeks statutory paternity pay or, if you need to take paternity leave, but are not entitled to statutory payment because you have not worked for your employer for long enough, you may be able to claim income support.
If you are a couple expecting a child on or after 5 April 2015, or adopt a child after that date, you may be able to share maternity leave and pay with your partner (see www.gov.uk)
If you are adopting, there are several benefits you may be able to claim, including statutory adoption pay.
Pre-school child benefits
Every 3 and 4 year old is entitled to a free early education place for 15 hours a week during term time. Some less advantaged two year olds may also be entitled to a free early years place.
From 6 April 2015 you will be able to claim £20.70 for your first child and £13.70 per week for other children. But, if either parent individually has an income of £50,000 or more they will be taxwd on the child benefit.
You don’t need to be working to get child tax credit. You may get money for each child you are responsible for and it won’t affect your child benefit. How much you get depends on your circumstances. There is a calculator on www.gov.uk to help you work this out.
If you pay rent for your home and are on a low income, you may be eligible for some housing benefit from your Local Authority. If you already claim Housing Benefit, but are having difficulty paying the rest of your rent, ask the Housing Department if they will make a one-off discretionary payment.
Council Tax Support scheme
This is help with Council Tax for people on a low income. Contact your Housing Benefits Department to find out if you might qualify. As with Housing Benefit some discretionary payments are available.
If you think that you may be entitled to something you are not claiming you can check on www.adviceguide.org.uk or www.gov.uk or ask your lcoal CAB for a benefit check.