Nearly £19 billion a year from central and local government is going unclaimed by millions of people who need it, says new research from social affairs analysts Policy in Practice. You could be one of them. If you are over pension age, out of work, a carer, on a low income, have a new baby or are living alone, there is help out there that you may not know about. Here is just some of it:


■ Universal Credit is for people in work or looking for work or unable to work and on a low income – 1.25 million fail to claim an average of £6,000 a year extra.

■ Carer’s Allowance Half a million people who care for a disabled person fail to claim £4,000 a year they could get.

■ Pension Credit 850,000 people over 66 on low incomes could get an average £3,750 a year on top of their state pension; and another 260,000 who pay rent could get £3,500 a year towards that cost. Call the claim line on 0800 99 1234 if you are a pensioner.

■ Council tax has never been higher – but 2.75 million people could claim an average £1,000 reduction if their income is low. People on any income can get a quarter off if they live alone. Ask the council that bills you.

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■ The Healthy Start Scheme from the NHS is for pregnant women and children under four on certain benefits: call 0300 330 7010 or email In Scotland it’s called Best Start – call Social Security Scotland on 0800 182 2222.

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There are also cheaper tariffs for water and broadband, and help with energy bills through the Warm Home Discount scheme that millions fail to claim. If you are on a low income, ask your supplier. Many people just do not know what is available. But Policy in Practice says people are also put off because they feel there is a stigma to asking for help. My message to you is please claim. My taxes help pay for it and
I would love you to have the money you need!

Check what you can claim at (it’s private and anonymous); if you prefer, it has a helpline on 0808 802 2000. Or contact your local Citizens Advice.


QUESTIONS? Send any questions to Paul cannot answer you personally, but will reflect them in his column.