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March 2012 Posts

3/1/2012 10:18:06 AM

Government drops benefit sanctions for young people on work experience schemes - Turn2us

Guardian website (link opens in a new window)The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has dropped all benefit sanctions for unemployed young people on Jobseeker's Allowance who are on an eight-week unpaid work experience scheme.

Although the scheme is voluntary, young people who dropped out after the first week risked having their benefits docked for two weeks.

Employers on the schemes demanded that the sanction be removed with some threatening to withdraw unless reforms were made. Charities and organisations concerned with employment issues had also expressed concerns about making people take these placements.

News of the change was given by Anne Marie Carrie, chief executive of the national charity Barnardo's. She attended a meeting with Government ministers and employers involved in the scheme to discuss these sanctions.

Speaking to Channel 4 News, she said: "Two things that have come out of it are really important. One is the removal of sanctions for anyone at any time if they leave this voluntary work experience scheme, to make sure we understand it is completely voluntary. The second thing that Barnardo's proposed is that we produce a young person's guide to work experience, so they understand what is expected of them."

Sources: Guardian news articles: Ministers drop benefit sanctions threat from work experience scheme (link opens in a new window) and Government U-turn on work scheme (link opens in a new window)

3/2/2012 11:01:18 AM

Turn2us seeks Welfare Benefits Specialist (Maternity Cover from April 2012) - Turn2us

Information about Welfare Benefits Specialist (maternity cover from April 2012) postDo you have extensive knowledge/experience of giving advice and writing/creating online resources about welfare benefits?

Turn2us is currently recruiting a Welfare Benefits Specialist (maternity cover from April 2012).

The deadline for applications is 5.00 pm on 14 March 2012. 

Interviews will take place at the Hammersmith Head Office the week commencing 19 March 2012.

 

3/2/2012 12:39:16 PM

Ask an Expert: Expecting a Child - Turn2us

Ask an Expert: Expecting a ChildTopics covered in our latest Ask an Expert session on Expecting a Child, which is published today, include employment rights; finding accommodation; and benefit entitlement.

Experts this month include Gingerbread and Working Families.

Read the Ask an Expert: Expecting a Child session

3/5/2012 9:10:43 AM

Child poverty campaigners ask for Working Tax Credit changes should be postponed - Turn2us

Guardian website (link opens in a new window)Child poverty campaigners will ask the Government today to postpone changes to Working Tax Credits (WTC). They say research shows that these cuts will leave some people worse off than if they gave up work and only claimed benefits.

The Tax Credits threshold for families with children is due to rise from 16 to 24 hours work a week in early April. The employment minister, Chris Grayling, has admitted that couples with children that will no longer qualify for the extra money could see their income drop to £257 a week - this is £14 a week less than an equivalent family with no adult working.

Campaigners say that many of the 212,000 couples claiming WTC but working under 24 hours a week say they cannot find more work and it is unfair to penalise them for working.  In a letter to the Chancellor, George Osborne, they are asking for the changes to be delayed until Autumn 2013 when the new Universal Credit system will address the gap. Signatories include Child Poverty Action Group (link opens in a new window), Barnardo's (link opens in a new window), Citizens Advice (link opens in a new window) and the Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers (USDAW) (link opens in a new window).

Read our guide to changes to the benefits system and benefits

Source: Guardian news article (link opens in a new window)

3/6/2012 9:41:51 AM

House of Lords votes against legal aid changes - Turn2us

BBC News article (link opens in a new window)The House of Lords has voted against several changes that the Government planned to make to the legal aid system. 

Peers backed amendments to the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill, to ensure:

  • the protection of victims of domestic violence from funding cuts
  • that people should have access to legal services that effectively meet their needs - within the context of the resources available
  • that the terms for appointing a Director of Legal Aid Casework should be spelt out in the legislation. The Government says that he or she will be a civil servant but peers stressed that the post's independence should be spelt out to prevent any ministerial interference.

The Government wants to save £350 by limited the availability of legal aid. However many opponents have argued that these cuts damage people's rights and will affect the most vulnerable people in UK society.

For more information on legal aid, see the Legal Services Commission website (link opens in a new window)

Source: BBC News article (link opens in a new window) and Guardian news article (link opens in a new window)

3/7/2012 8:53:29 AM

Legal aid cuts threaten specialist advice work of Citizens Advice Bureaux - Turn2us

Citizens advice website (link opens in a new window)Legal aid cuts will make it almost impossible for many Citizens Advice Bureaux (CAB) to carry on providing specialist advice, leaving thousands of people with nowhere to turn with serious but everyday legal problems. This is according to a new report commissioned by Citizens Advice which is published this week.

Writing in the introduction to the report Out of scope, out of mind: who loses from legal aid reform (link opens in a new window), Citizens Advice Chief Executive Gillian Guy says that abolishing legal aid for issues such as welfare benefits, debt, most housing problems and employment will have a devastating impact on the capacity of the CAB service to provide specialist advice and casework,.

The warning comes as the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill reaches its final stages in Parliament.

Specialist advice

“Specialist advice has become a core part of the CAB service,” Guy says.

“Our frontline caseworkers and managers have told us that the impact of the proposed changes to legal aid on specialist services will be devastating. The overwhelming majority say that it will be impossible to provide a specialist service, whilst over half say that it may be impossible to continue providing any advice service at all.”

“Our real concern is how these types of problems will be resolved if specialist casework services are no longer available. The vulnerability of the clients in the cases outlined in the report is striking.  Serious cases of unmanageable debt, refusal of benefits and unfair dismissal will simply get worse.  And the worse these problems get, the greater the cost for public services and the economy.”

Out of scope, out of mind

Out of scope, out of mind* tells the stories of some of the many thousands of clients who have sought advice and been helped by their local CAB in the last 18 months, but whose problems will not qualify for free legal help in future. In most cases it has been CAB specialist legal aid advice which has helped them resolve their problems.

From April 2013, social welfare law will be taken ‘out of scope’ of legal aid. This means legal aid advice will be abolished for all welfare benefit matters, debt, employment and all housing cases except those where a person’s home is at “immediate risk” or where housing disrepair poses a serious threat to health.  Legal aid advice on issues involving immigration status and family breakdown will also be abolished, except where detention, domestic violence, child protection or state childcare are involved.

House of Lords vote

On Monday 5 March, the House of Lords voted against some of the changes in the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill

Read the Citizens Advice press release (link opens in a new window)

3/8/2012 9:43:47 AM

Save Child Benefit Campaign launched - Turn2us

CPAG Save Child Benefit Campaign website (link opens in a new window)Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) have launched a Save Child Benefit campaign this week with the publication of a report that highlights the importance of Child Benefit to families.

The value of Child Benefit has been frozen until 2013/14, drastically cutting the amount families receive, and it will be taxed away from families in a complex way. Critics say these changes are unfair, unaffordable and unworkable.

Through the campaign, CPAG are calling for the freeze to Child Benefit to be lifted and rates to be restored, and for tax on Child Benefit to be stopped.

Browse the Save Child Benefit website (link opens in a new window)

3/8/2012 2:02:31 PM

Welfare Reform Bill becomes law - Turn2us

Welfare Reform Bill informationThe Welfare Reform Bill was made law today.

The Bill outlines provision for:

  • The introduction of Universal Credit and the Personal Independence Payment
  • Other arrangements about social security and Tax Credits, including provision for a benefit cap to be applied to the welfare benefits to which someone is entitled.

Read the Department for Work and Pensions press release 8 March 2012 (link opens in a new window)

Read our guide to changes to benefits and the benefits system

3/9/2012 9:29:54 AM

Disability Employment Support: Fulfilling Potential - Turn2us

Department for Work and Pensions website (link opens in a new window)Disability employment services should be focused on disabled people themselves, rather than institutions, so they can access mainstream jobs the same as everyone else. This is the central theme of the Government's  command paper, Disability Employment Support: Fulfilling Potential (link opens in a new window), published this week, which sets out the strategy for specialist disability employment programmes. It includes a summary of the responses to the public consultation on the Sayce Review, Getting in, staying in and getting on (link opens in a new window), commissioned to look at how the £320m protected budget for disability employment could be used more effectively to support thousands more disabled people into work.

Minister for Disabled People, Maria Miller said: “We have been absolutely clear that the £320m budget for specialist disability employment services has been protected. But by spending the money more effectively, we can get thousands more disabled people in work.

“That is why we have accepted the recommendation from the Sayce review to refocus support on individuals through services like Access to Work, rather than institutions like Remploy, so more disabled people can work in mainstream employment rather than Government funded segregated factories.”

The Government recognises the need to do more to increase the number of people with disabilities in work - 48% are in work, compared to 77% of people who do not have disabilities.

The £320 budget for specialist employment support is being protected and an extra £15 million is to be made available for Access to Work in this Spending Review period.

3/12/2012 10:24:19 AM

Concern about effects of Tax Credit cuts - Turn2us

Guardian/Observer website (link opens in a new window)Concerns are growing about the effects that the April changes to Tax Credits will have on families on low incomes. Pressure is being put on the Chancellor, George Osborne, not to make these cuts.

The independent think tank, the Resolution Foundation (link opens in a new window), have said that these changes, which start in April, will make life tougher for working parents, particularly women with children, at a time when they are already struggling financially.

They say that the changes will reduce the incentive to work - the opposite effect to what is intended by making these cuts. It wants the April freeze on the value of Working Tax Credit to be reversed and for the Government not to increase the amount of work a couple with children must do - from 16 to 24 hours - before they are eligible for the credits.

The campaigning charity Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) (link opens in a new window) has also written to David Cameron and George Osborne, urging them not to make the changes before they "consign thousands of families to poverty".

Read our guide to changes to benefits and the benefits system, including information on April 2012 Tax Credits changes

Source: Observer news article (link opens in a new window)

3/13/2012 2:28:52 PM

Single parents: When your child reaches 16 - Turn2us

Gingerbread tool for single parents of children who are turning 16It’s an exciting time for a teenager when they turn 16. They may be looking forward to gaining more independence, taking their first steps into adulthood and choosing what they want to do next in education, work or training.

However if you are a single parent of such a teenager, you may be worrying about how your benefits and Tax Credits will be affected once they reach 16. 

Having access to information tailored to your family’s circumstances is a key factor in helping you to understand your situation and plan how you will manage financially if a change in your income occurs.

Gingerbread, the national charity for single parent families, has developed a new online advice tool to help single parents work out how their financial situation might be affected when their child turns 16. It’s quick, straightforward and completely free to use.

Through a series of simple yes or no questions and answers, the online tool guides you through different options available to young people after the end of compulsory education. In a few short steps, parents can find out what this might mean for the family’s benefits and Tax Credits and where to go for further advice and information.

Try the Gingerbread 'When your child turns 16' tool

Other Gingerbread services for single parents

If you are a single parent, this tool is just one of the ways Gingerbread offers expert advice and practical information to you.

3/14/2012 12:40:17 PM

Personal Independence Payment phased launch details announced - Turn2us

Personal Independence Payment information sheet (link opens in a new window)The Welfare Reform Bill includes plans to replace Disability Living Allowance (DLA) for people of working-age with a new benefit called Personal Independence Payment (PIP).

The government has announced details of how the introduction of Personal Independence Payment (PIP) will work.

Minister for Disabled People Maria Miller said:

'"Bootle Benefit Centre (Bootle BC) will administer the first new claims from Spring 2013, from areas including Merseyside, North-West England, Cumbria, Cheshire and north-east England. People in these locations will be the first to claim the new benefit. The primary reason for selecting the Bootle BC is that it handles Disability Living Allowance (DLA) new claims in volumes that will provide a robust test of PIP processes and new computer systems. During this period, new claimants in all other parts of the country will continue to claim DLA as now.

"The remaining network of benefit centres currently administering new claims for DLA will start to take on new claims for PIP from summer 2013, once evidence is in place that processes are working as intended. In addition this network will handle continuing DLA claims for children. Blackpool Benefit Centre will undertake PIP reassessment activity for existing DLA claimants aged 16 to 64.’"

Read our information sheet on Personal Independence Payment (PIP)

3/15/2012 9:58:57 AM

March Turn2us News published - Turn2us

March 2012 e-bulletinRead the March issue of our monthly e-bulletin for intermediaries to find out more about our Benefits Awareness Month campaign; changes to Tax Credits in April; our new intermediaries forum; and the latest dates for our free intermediary workshops.

Browse the March Turn2us News

3/16/2012 9:50:45 AM

Fuel Poverty set to rise rapidly - Turn2us

John Hills's Fuel Poverty report information (link opens in a new window)A new independent review confirms that fuel poverty is a serious national problems, affecting people who have low incomes and energy costs that are above typical levels. Figures are set to rise rapidly over the next few years.

Produced by John Hills, Professor of Social Policy at the London School of Economics, who was appointed fuel poverty tsar by the Government last year, the review looked at:

  • The definition and measures of fuel poverty
  • Fuel poverty targets
  • The effectiveness of policies that aim to address the problem.

Measuring fuel poverty

The review suggests that the way fuel poverty is currently measured, based on whether a household would need to spend more than 10% of its income on energy, is flawed. It gives a misleading impression of trends, excluding some affected by the problem at some times and including people with high incomes at others. 

It proposes a new way of measuring the problem, focused both on the number of people affected and the severity of the problem they face. Using this measure, it finds that:

  • Nearly 8 million people in England, within 2.7 million households, both had low incomes and faced high energy costs in 2009 (the most recent year with available data). These households faced costs to keep warm that added up to
    £1.1 billion more than middle or higher income people with typical costs. 
  • This “fuel poverty gap” – already three-quarters higher than in 2003 – will rise by a further half, to £1.7 billion by 2016.
    This means fuel poor households will face costs nearly £600 a year higher on average than better-off households with typical costs.

Effects and interventions

The report argues that:

  • Fuel poverty exacerbates other hardship faced by those on low incomes, has serious health effects (including contributing to extra deaths every winter) and acts as a block to efforts to cut carbon emissions.
  • Interventions targeted on the main issues of fuel poverty – especially those that improve the energy efficiency of homes lived in by people with low incomes – can make a substantial difference. However, the impact of those planned to be in place by 2016 will only reduce the problem by a tenth.

Professor Hills's comment

Professor Hills said: "There is no doubt that fuel poverty is a serious national problem – increasing hardship, contributing to winter deaths and other health problems, and blocking policies to combat climate change.  But the official measure has fed complacency at times and gloom about the impact of policies at others.

"When one focuses on the core of the problem in the way I propose, the outlook is profoundly disappointing, with the scale of the problem heading to be nearly three times higher in 2016 – the date legislation set for its elimination – than in
2003.

"But this daunting problem is one with solutions.  Our analysis shows that improving the housing of those at risk is the most cost-effective way of tackling the problem, cutting energy waste, with large long-term benefits to society as a
whole. We need a renewed and ambitious strategy to do this."

Find out more about Professor Hills's report (link opens in a new window)

Read our Fuel Poverty information sheet (link opens in a new window)

Sources: Professor Hills's press release (link opens in a new window PDF file size 133kb) and Guardian news article (link opens in a new window)

3/19/2012 9:16:13 AM

Parents caught out by baby costs - Turn2us

Money Advice Service Baby costs calculator (link opens in a new window)New research from the Money Advice Service reveals that millions of parents are underestimating the costs of having a baby. The independent advisory organisation has launched a Baby Costs Calculator, a free tool to help parents calculate how much they will need to spend in their baby's first year.

The study, conducted among 1,000 parents with children under 10 years old, revealed that of those who underestimated how much much they would need to spend:

  • 50% underestimated how much they would spend preparing and caring for their first baby in its first year
  • 61% spent up to £1,000 more than they expected to
  • 22% had unexpected costs of between £1,000-£5,000
  • 33% chose not to seek money advice before having their first baby
  • 17% didn't even think about the financial costs.

The new free, online Baby Costs Calculator helps shows costs (excluding childcare) scaled to three different budget levels:

  • Money is tight right now
  • Show me some average costs
  • No expense spared.

Use the Money Advice Service Baby Costs Calculator (link opens in a new window)

Source: Money Advice Service (link opens in a new window)

3/20/2012 9:41:01 AM

Households still struggling, despite owing and spending less - Turn2us

CCCS press release (link opens in a new window PDF file size 33kb)Households are working hard to cut spending and reduce their debts, but are 'swimming against a tide' of falling real incomes and the high cost of living. This is according to the debt charity Consumer Credit Counselling Service (CCCS) which has just published its annual Statistical Year book analysing the 370,000 people who contacted CCCS for help in 2011.

The report highlights specific concerns over youth unemployment, the worsening financial position of renters and debt problems increasingly being carried into later life.

If you are struggling to make ends meet, use our Benefits Calculator to check your entitlement to benefits and our Grants database to see if you are eligible for help from a charitable fund, based on your personal background, circumstances and needs.

Read our Debt information sheet

Update 5 November 2012

CCCS is now called StepChange Debt Charity (link opens in a new window)

3/20/2012 10:41:17 AM

Submit your questions on Tax Credit changes to Ask an Expert - Turn2us

Ask an Expert session on Tax Credit changesSeveral changes to Tax Credits are set to come into force next month. For some people this will mean losing their entitlement completely from 6 April.

If you are unsure about how these changes may affect you, you can send your Tax Credits questions to us between 21 and 27 March.

Our panel of experts will answer a selection which will be published on 30 March. Every 'on topic' question submitted will receive an answer once the session ends.

Submit your question on Tax Credit changes to Ask an Expert (session is now closed) 

3/22/2012 9:13:54 AM

George Osborne announces 2012 Budget - Turn2us

News item about the Budget 2012Child Benefit will only be withdrawn from higher rate taxpayers if someone in the household has an income of more than £50,000. This was announced by the Chancellor George Osborne yesterday as part of his 2012 Budget. To avoid a "cliff-edge" effect, he said Child Benefit will be withdrawn at 1% for every extra £100 earned over £50,000. An additional 750,000 families will keep some or all of their Child Benefit and only those earning £60,000 or more will lose all of it.

Other measures include:

Tax Allowances

  • The tax-free personal allowance is to rise by £1,100 from April 2013 to £9,205, making 24 million people £220 a year better off
  • The tax allowances for people aged 65 - currently £10,500 up to the age of 74 years and £10,660 for people older than that - will be frozen and stopped for anyone turning 65 after 5 April 2013. $.41 million people will be worse off, by an average of £83, in real terms by 2013. Mr Osborne said it would simplify allowances and no pensioner would lose out "in cash terms". He pointed to next month's "biggest cash increase in the State Pension" of £5.30 a week.

Pensions

  • A new single tier pension for future pensioners is to be set around £140 (above the basic level of the means test). Anyone reaching State Pension age before these reforms are introduced will be unaffected by the reform and will continue to receive their State Pension in line with current rules. The Government will recognise contributions that have been made to the current system under any reforms. A white paper will be published this spring.
  • There will be an automatic review of the State Pension age to ensure it keeps pace with increases in life expectancy. Details of how this will work will be published this summer.

Employment

Council Tax bills and Service personnel serving in operations overseas

  • Servicemen and women serving in operations overseas will receive 100 per cent relief on an average Council Tax bill.

Read our Personal Tax Allowances information sheet

Sources: Directgov news article (no longer available) and BBC News article (link opens in a new window)

3/23/2012 10:01:07 AM

Poor Child Trust Fund rates cost children millions - Turn2us

Directgov information on Junior ISAs (link opens in a new window)Research by Which? shows that the average Junior ISA is paying a fifth more interest than the average Child Trust Fund.

Even if the difference in the annual rate of return between the two schemes is just 0.5%, the campaigning consumer organisation says that children could miss out on more than £300 million in returns on savings over the next ten years. This is because Government rules prevent transfers from Child Trust Funds into Junior ISAs.

Which? Chief Executive, Peter Vicary-Smith, says: "Junior ISAs are a welcome addition to the savings market but it's vital that the Government does not penalise those children who were born before these new savings products were introduced.

"The Government must change the rules to allow savers to access the best rates available for children's savings regardless of when the child was born."

What is a Junior ISA?

A Junior ISA is a tax-free children's savings account that aims to help parents save for their children's future. It was introduced in November 2011 and replaced the Child Trust Fund (link opens in a new window) which was abolished in January 2011. However, unlike this previous scheme, the Government does not make any payments into the new accounts.

See the Gov.UK website information on Junior ISAs (link opens in a new window)

Source: Which? press release (link opens in a new window)

3/26/2012 12:48:02 PM

We are recruiting a Welfare Benefits Specialist - Turn2us

Do you have extensive knowledge and experience of giving advice and creating online resources about welfare benefits?

Turn2us is currently recruiting a Welfare Benefits Specialist (maternity cover from April 2012) to plan, develop and manage a range of welfare benefit resources, and provide expert advice on welfare benefit issues.

you can find out more about this exciting role here

To apply please send your CV and a supporting statement which addresses the requirement in the person specification to recruitment@turn2us.org.uk

The deadline for applications is 5.00 pm on Wednesday 11 April 2012.

Interviews will take place at the Hammersmith Head Office week commencing 16 April 2012.

3/28/2012 10:40:48 AM

Two-thirds have 'put life on hold' because of recession - Turn2us

News item about the 'Life in Limbo' surveyTwo-thirds of people in the UK have been forced to delay important life decisions because of the current economic climate, research by Moneysupermarket.com has found. The 'Life in Limbo?' survey found that individuals aged 18-34 - a key group in terms of major life choices - have put the most on hold.

Key findings included:

  • Top areas people have put on hold are travelling (32%), home improvements (27%) and short-term saving (21%)
  • 17% of people surveyed have put off buying a house - for four years on average
  • 10% have delayed their weddings - by an average of three years
  • 8% have been forced to postpone having their first child - also by an average of three years
  • Five years is the average delay to retirement for those putting it off.

Participants were asked what would need to happen to get their plans back on track:

  • 52% said an increase in income was the number one remedy
  • 46% needed the cost of living needs to reduce
  • 34% said that they needed to win the lottery
  • 33% said paying off their debts and freeing up some funds would help to turn things around.

Read the Moneysupermarket information on this research (link opens in a new window)

Source: Daily Telegraph article (link opens in a new window) and PR newswire (link opens in a new window)

3/29/2012 9:37:55 AM

Biggest drop in disposable income for 35 years - Turn2us

Daily Mail website (link opens in a new window)Family have seen the worst fall in their disposable income since 1977, according to new statistics published this week by the Office for National Statistics.

The average disposable income dropped by 1.2% in 2011 compared to 2010, the largest annual drop for 35 years. This means that every household in the country has about £430 less to spend than it did the previous year.

Source: Daily Mail article (link opens in a new window) 

3/30/2012 9:35:19 AM

Two leading carers charities are merging - Turn2us

Carers Trust logTwo leading carers charities, Crossroads Care and the Princess Royal Trust for Carers, are merging to form a new charity called the Carers Trust. This will provide support, information, advice and services for the millions of people caring at home for a family member or friend.

Her Royal Highness, The Princess  Royal, will be President of the new charity, which will be operational from 1 April 2012 with a public launch planned in the summer.

Crossroads Care and Princess Royal Trust for Carers have a strong history of working together, with a number of jointly funded posts and a range of successful fundraising and policy campaigns.

The Carers Trust will build on the experience and expertise of its two founder charities to work towards its vision of "a world where the role and contribution of unpaid carers is recognised and they have access to the quality support and services they need to live their own lives".

Both charities' networks will continue to provide support to carers under their local brands and are not expected to merge locally as a result of the national merger.

See our information section for Carers

Source: Crossroads Care news article (link opens in a new window) and Civil Society newsletter 24 February 2012 (link opens in a new window) 

3/30/2012 12:12:36 PM

Ask an Expert: Tax Credit changes - Turn2us

Ask an Expert - Tax Credit changesSeveral changes to Tax Credits are set to come into effect in April. For some people this will mean losing their entitlement completely from 6 April.

Our Ask an Expert session for March, published today, focused on your questions about these changes.

Read our summary of changes to Tax Credits in April

Browse the Ask an Expert session on Tax Credit changes

3/30/2012 12:13:01 PM

Support Benefits Awareness Month - Turn2us

Benefits Awareness Month web pageTurn2us is launching its second annual Benefits Awareness Month today to encourage people to check their entitlement to welfare benefits using tools and information on the Turn2us website, including the Benefits Calculator.

Through the campaign, which runs from 2-30 April, Turn2us aims to:

  • tackle the perceived stigma associated with making a benefits claim
  • remind everyone on low and limited incomes of the importance of accessing the help they are entitled to.

This year, over 35 charities and advisory organisations will be supporting Turn2us on this campaign. Throughout the month, they will be spreading the word about how important it is for people to check their benefit entitlement and claim what is available to them.

Alison Taylor, Director of Turn2us said: “Many of the individuals we speak to and who have used our Turn2us service to access benefits, say that before coming to us they were simply unaware of what they were entitled to or put off from claiming by the sheer complexity of the system.

During Benefits Awareness Month we want to encourage people on low incomes to visit the Turn2us website to see what they might be entitled to in case they are missing out on vital financial support.”

Dedicated website

Turn2us has developed a dedicated website for the Benefits Awareness Month campaign - http://www.benefitsawareness.org.uk/. This includes a 'guess-who' style game, which aims to challenge some of the stigmas and stereotypes linked to claiming benefits. 

3/30/2012 12:34:32 PM

Turn2us research uncovers low income stigmas around benefits - Turn2us

Benefits Awareness Month web pageNew research by Turn2us has found that only a 20% of people on low incomes believe that those claiming means-tested benefits have the right to do so. Over a third (36%) hold the opinion that claimants need to help themselves as opposed to relying on state support.

The results are released as Turn2us launches its second annual Benefits Awareness Month, to encourage people in financial need to check their potential entitlement.

59% of those surveyed said they feel that welfare benefits exist to help the most vulnerable in society, yet the results indicate that 17% do not associate themselves with this group, reporting they have not claimed in the past and could never see themselves doing so, despite being on a low income.

Shockingly, 13% revealed they would rather cut back on essentials such as food than claim benefits, and 6% would be too ashamed to tell friends and family if they were to claim.

Benefits Awareness Month

Of the 13.5 million people living below the poverty line in the UK, only 5.4 million are claiming state support, and over £19 billion in welfare benefits goes unclaimed each year**. As further cuts come in to effect and pay freezes continue, Turn2us is launching Benefits Awareness Month to urge those on low incomes who may be struggling financially to check their entitlements in case they are missing out on vital additional support.

Individuals can log on to http://www.turn2us.org.uk/ free and in confidence and access a benefits calculator to work out which welfare benefits and tax credits they might be entitled to and possible amounts they might receive.

Alison Taylor, Director of Turn2us said: “Our research findings show that more needs to be done in terms of raising awareness of welfare benefits available and reducing some of the negative perceptions around claiming. We know that people can often be reluctant to turn to charities or claim benefits when times get tough. With increasing numbers of households being affected by the current economic climate, including those who never ever expected to face financial difficulty, we hope our campaign will help more people to see past any perceived stigmas and access the help available to them.”

Read our press release about this research (link opens in a new window)

Find out more about Benefits Awareness Month (link opens in a new window)

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