• With one in four having sleepless nights worrying about money, checking your state benefit entitlement is a must for money strapped Brits

Dean Butler, Managing Director for Retail Direct at Standard Life, part of Phoenix Group, comments: “This month, most state benefits, including Universal Credit, will rise by 6.7% after the Government’s Autumn announcement that they would rise based on September 2023’s inflation figure. Simultaneously, Pension Credit will rise by 8.5%, along with the state pension.

"While this will be a welcome boost to some of the UK’s most vulnerable households, it’s estimated that more than £15bn of Government benefits go unclaimed each year1. Recent Standard Life research found one in four people are having sleepless nights worrying about their financial situation, yet many eligible people fail to claim the benefits and support due to them. Many are unaware of the different types of benefits available so don’t even think to check their eligibility. Others are put off by the thought of dealing with the Government claim process, thinking it will take too long or that they won’t be accepted. And many people don’t realise that if you get accepted for some benefits, it can mean you are entitled to others.

“If you’re struggling with the cost of living, it’s worth checking your state benefits entitlement and claiming any and all payments you might be eligible to receive as it could make a difference to household finances each year.”

Dean Butler outlines the key things to be aware of when it comes to state benefit eligibility:

What key benefits should I look out for?

“There’s a wide range of state benefits  and support available, and the conditions that may make you eligible include:

  • being temporarily unable to work, including because of ill health;
  • being made redundant or are looking for work;
  • aising a family or have a child who is disabled;
  • you are disabled or have a health condition;
  • you are a carer;
  • you have lost a loved one.

“If you’re struggling to pay bills, have lost your job, aren’t able to work or are on low income, you might consider claiming Universal Credit. This is a payment for people over 18 but under state pension age. It includes support for the cost of housing, children and childcare, and financial support for people with disabilities, carers, and people too ill to work. It’s paid monthly – or twice a month for some people in Scotland. To make a claim all you need to create a secure Universal Credit online account.

“If you’ve reached state pension age and are on a low income (this varies depending on your date of birth), you could be eligible for Pension Credit. From this month, Pension Credit tops up your weekly income to £218.15 if you’re single, or your joint weekly income to £332.95 if you have a partner. It can help with your living costs and can also help with housing costs such as ground rent or service charges. It’s separate from your state pension and you can get Pension Credit even if you have other income, savings or own your own home. The DWP estimate up to 1 million households who are entitled to Pension Credit do not claim it, so if you are over state pension age be sure to check if you are eligible.”

How can you find out if you’re missing out on benefits you're eligible for?

“The good news is there’s plenty of support to help you check and then claim.

“A good first port of call is to visit the benefits calculators page on the Government website GOV.UK – it’s an excellent source of information when it comes to finding out what you might be entitled to. It has a series of online calculators providing information on income-related benefits, tax credits, Council Tax Reduction, Carer’s Allowance, Universal Credit and how your benefits will be affected if you start work or change your working hours.

“Before using the benefit calculators you’ll need some key details to hand, including any savings, your single or joint income, your single or joint existing benefits, any income from a state or personal pension and any outgoings such as childcare, rent etc.

“Another option is MoneyHelper, a Government-backed, free, impartial guidance service for money and pensions, which has a handy benefits page to help you find out what you’re entitled to, how to claim, when you qualify, and what to do if things go wrong.”

What information do I need to check if I’m eligible?

“To check if you qualify for state support, you just need some key details to hand:

  • Any savings
  • Your single or joint income
  • Your single or joint existing benefits
  • Any income from a state or personal pension
  • Any outgoing such as rent, childcare etc..”

What happens if I take money from my pension?

“It’s important to be aware that if you already receive Government benefits such as Universal Credit or Pension Credits, you may lose eligibility if you take an income from your pension.

“This is because money from your pension is treated as additional income and may impact your eligibility to claim certain benefits. If you’ve withdrawn more than the 25% tax-free cash part of your pension pot, you may need to pay tax if your income rises above your personal allowance (£12,570 for 2024/2025 tax year). Tax rules may change, and tax treatment depends on individual circumstances and where you live in the UK.”

What else can I do to make my money go further?

“A good start is to get the full picture of your finances. Think about what’s coming in and going out. Look at your income, bills and other outgoings to see what’s leftover and where you could make cuts. Having a clear budget could help pay off any debts and free up some money each month.

“It’s always a good idea to review your bills and subscriptions and check if you are on the best possible deal with your mortgage, broadband, phone, energy, insurance, or TV. Taking the time to call a provider and review your plans could bring significant savings. It’s also worth looking at subscriptions – if you’re not making the most of them, consider cancelling.

“Always deal with priority debt first. If you’re struggling to make repayments on a mortgage, credit card or other loan, talk to your provider. They could help until you’re in a better financial position, by extending the terms of your loan, adjusting repayment amounts or allowing a payment holiday. If you have a credit card with a high interest rate, check for balance transfer offers. If you’re unable to repay your debt, you could consider a Debt Management Plan, which is an agreement where you pay your creditors a small amount each month.

“It might seem obvious, but it’s always worth having a think about where you can cut back on day-to-day spending. Before going food shopping, plan your meals, make a list and stick to it. Could you swap out more expensive foods or switch to value brands and budget supermarkets? If you’re in extreme difficulty, Citizens’ Advice could help refer you to a food bank. If you shop online, reduce browsing time to reduce temptation and any unplanned purchases. You can also think about if it is possible to walk or cycle to work, or work from home to cut commuting costs.” 



James Merrick
Standard Life
07713 918949

Notes to editors

1Source: Entitledto.com

* Boxclever conducted research among 6,350 UK adults. Fieldwork was conducted 26th July – 9th August 2023. Data was weighted post-fieldwork to ensure the data remained nationally representative on key demographics.

About Standard Life

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