UK poverty charity Turn2us has reported a surge in requests for help in the period immediately following Christmas. The charity reports that tens of thousands of calculations were made using its Benefits Calculator over the holiday period. Almost 33,000 (32,893) calculations were made between Christmas Eve and the 2nd of January by people who wanted to work out what welfare benefits they are entitled to and how a change of circumstance could affect what they are currently receiving. Turn2us says that this is often the hardest time of year for those struggling financially as Christmas and the cost of energy bills puts added pressures on already buckling household budgets.
Turn2us also stresses that those struggling financially need to be aware of the significant changes to the benefits and tax credits system that are taking place this year. The charity said that it is particularly important for families to be aware of changes to support for children through Tax Credits and Universal Credit. Tax Credits and Universal Credit will start being limited to two children from April 2017. In addition, people starting a family after April 2017 will no longer be eligible for Family Element in Tax Credits or the equivalent in Universal Credit (known as the First Child Element).
The charity also says that young adults need to be aware that the entitlement to housing support in Universal Credit for those aged 21 or under will cease from April 2017.
Commenting on the importance of people being aware the changes to the welfare benefits and tax credits system that are taking place this year, Simon Hopkins, Chief Executive of Turn2us, said: “It’s more vital than ever that people understand how the benefits system affects them. The changes to the system in 2017 will be significant for many people.
“We urge anyone who thinks that they might be affected to check whether the upcoming changes will have an impact on them.”
Visit the Turn2us website - Turn2us.org.uk – to access its free and easy-to-use Benefits Calculator and Grants Search tools which can help you check what you might be able to claim or apply for.